Town May Offer Web Audio

BERLIN – Audio recordings of Berlin Mayor and Council meetings and other gatherings could soon be available on the town website with potentially live audio broadcasts and eventually video broadcasts to follow.

Town Administrator Tony Carson suggested using a digital voice recorder to tape Berlin meetings, a practice followed by his previous employer, the town of Fenwick, Del., which could then be posted on the municipality’s website.

The new Information Technology Committee (ITC), which met for the first time a few weeks ago, endorsed the concept.

“Our idea for this is to get the information out to the public as quickly and efficiently as we can,” Carson said.

The recorder, which should cost less than $500, would be used to record town council and commission meetings, including Planning Commission or the Historic District Commission. The recordings would then be available through the town website.

The meeting recordings could be kept available for months, Carson said.

This should be particularly helpful for residents who cannot attend meetings while traveling or because of scheduling conflicts, Mayor Gee Williams said.

Councilwoman Lisa Hall suggested staff explore broadcasting the meeting audio in real time. She said she would hate to get the web-only system running just to decide to do more later, which would probably add to expenses.

Products are available, including video capabilities, for a few thousand dollars, said Sam Card, owner of Card’s Computers.

“You could certainly broadcast the meeting live on the Internet,” Card said.

There are also devices that can translate audio directly to text. The town could eventually set-up a system allowing viewers at home to interact with the meeting in real time, he added.

“You can’t get more transparent than that,” said Hall.

Williams suggested starting with audio recordings, before the town invests time and money in more complicated and costly systems.

The ITC also presented Card Computers as the new on-call IT maintenance company for the town.

Card said he would also assess the system needs and ask for feedback on improvements and changes, which would be used to construct a several year “IT road map”.