Southampton County promotes streaming/recording technology
Published 6:20 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Southampton County is seeking to raise awareness of its meeting recording and streaming technology after having made a significant investment in its efforts to reach citizens that cannot attend government meetings in person or who desire the flexibility to watch meetings on their own schedule.
Southampton County Information Technology Director Susan Wright explained that the county purchased its present meeting recording/streaming technology from a company called Swagit Productions LLC in May 2021.
“The purchase was influenced by the pandemic,” Wright said. “However, we were already in need of a professional livestream and archive recording of our meetings.”
THE SELLING POINTS OF SWAGIT
As the county considered different providers, Swagit benefited from having been awarded a 50-state procurement The Interlocal Purchasing System contract.
“We were able to utilize that contract,” Wright said.
She noted that ultimately, Swagit was the county’s choice because it was able to meet the county’s needs.
“We wanted to reach citizens that could not attend the meetings in person and/or may want to view recordings at a later date,” she said.
She indicated that some of Swagit’s selling points included simple setup, remote technology, captions for livestreaming, archive and video indexing.
Wright helped further explain some of those selling points as she shared more specifically what the technology makes available to the county’s citizens:
- All Southampton County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings are livestreamed with captions and recorded.
- Swagit enables citizens to watch a livestream of the meetings from home or anywhere.
- For those who cannot watch the livestream or who want to go back and review certain topics of meetings, the videos are archived and can be watched at a later date.
- When viewing the videos from the archive, citizens can take advantage of the video index. Simply click on a specific topic from the agenda — which is included on the archive page with the associated video — and it will take citizens to that specific section of the video, thereby eliminating the need to watch the entire video if they do not need or want to.
THE COST OF SWAGIT
The purchase that the county made in May 2021 was a package deal, including not just the software active on the county website but also physical cameras and the services of Swagit personnel.
Wright stated that the initial setup cost was approximately $65,000, almost all of which was paid with money coming from the special funds provided to localities to aid them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recurring monthly fee for Swagit is $1,851.25, she noted, adding that this fee includes both Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission livestreams, captions, archives and video indexing.
“It is very important to note that during the livestream, Swagit personnel are actively controlling the cameras remotely,” Wright said. “They zoom in on who is talking, use different camera angles, and provide the captions (listing) who is speaking and/or the topic being discussed.”
CURRENT USAGE OF THE TECHNOLOGY BY CITIZENS
Wright said the number of people currently watching livestreams of meetings varies depending on the topics being discussed, but on average, there are about 18 people watching Board of Supervisors meetings live and about seven people watching Planning Commission meetings live.
“The number of people who watch the meetings after the fact is much greater than those who watch the livestreams,” she said. “In a six-month period, there have been approximately 175 views of the archived Board of Supervisors videos and approximately 60 views of the archived Planning Commission videos.”
The county is hoping to increase awareness of the meeting streaming/recording technology so usage of it will increase correspondingly.
WHERE TO ACCESS IT
The livestreams and recordings of the Southampton County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings are exclusive to the county’s website — SouthamptonCounty.org. Among the popular links listed on the right-hand side of the website homepage is a button marked “Live Streamed Meetings By Swagit LLC” that leads to both the live and archived videos.
Wright noted that a link to at least the livestreams will also be made available on the county’s forthcoming Facebook page.