Yesterday, New Orleans City Council launched its redesigned website NOLACityCouncil.com and NOLA GOV. Online, a technology featuring live and archived streaming video of City Council meetings. NOLA GOV. Online can be accessed through the City Council website at www.nolacitycouncil.com.
An instrumental part of their website redesign project was the launch of a new transparency tool: an audio/video streaming media and integrated legislative management solution which allows citizens to have instantaneous access to complete, timely, integrated and searchable public information including complete audio/video policy discussion, decision-making, and public records. The system is provided by San Francisco-based Granicus, Inc. Although Granicus has more than 500 government clients, New Orleans is the first municipality in Louisiana to adopt this cutting-edge technology with meetings management functionality. This tool includes links within meeting agendas directing viewers to the Council's discussion on those items, as well as legislative instrument tracking, to manage Council meetings and provide greater access and accountability to the public.
According to the city's press release, in the next six months, as Council committees and other agencies come online, citizens will be able to follow and track the progress of legislation through other bodies (Council committees, boards and commissions, etc.) to final dispensation by the New Orleans City Council, as well as access agenda item links to related pieces of legislation, staff reports, photos and other relevant documents.
According to City Council President Arnie Fielkow, NOLA GOV. Online and the "user friendly" NOLACityCouncil.com provide exceptional access and transparency.
"Government information has been moving steadily to the web for the past ten years - today, the Council is taking the people's business to an exceptional level of openness. Our redesigned website greatly expands citizen access to our Council proceedings, including votes, documents and videos related to agenda items. Just as important, all of this information will be archived and searchable by date and keywords," Fielkow said.
The redesigned website and streaming video impacts engagement between the City Council and the public in the areas of: emergency preparedness; government transparency; research accessibility; education; resources for citizens and neighborhood organizations; and international outreach. It also provides access to New Orleans City Council meetings and emergency information for citizens and stakeholders outside the City of New Orleans via the internet.
According to Granicus CEO and Co-Founder Tom Spengler, with the launch of the new streaming media solution, the City Council is taking a progressive step forward in reshaping how it communicates to its local, national and international audiences over the web.
"City staff is now empowered with a rich platform of audio/video and legislative management tools to help them increase public awareness and foster more participation online. This technology enhancement will also give them the digital capabilities to heighten government transparency as well as strengthen emergency preparedness, community relations, and international outreach efforts - all critical components of maintaining a thriving community and government business," said Spengler.
Grancius is a combined "hosted plus software solution" that provides the City a platform for publishing streaming video online and managing legislative proceedings. The integrated voting system allows legislative votes to be electronically recorded from the Council into the Clerk's meeting minutes, providing a secure and simple digital platform. The City sought a solution that integrates the various processes, such as live and archived online video, electronic recording of legislative votes, annotation of the minutes, automation of workflow, and linkage of associated minutes to the audio/video of the meeting in a consolidated archive that is citizen-centric. In addition, this solution will be utilized to provide emergency notifications and other important public information over the internet.