San Diego City Council to Get a Major IT Overhaul
The enhancements will include “new lighting, a new sound system, modernized video displays and an upgraded voting system for the council,” the Union-Tribune reports.
The newspaper adds that “Other potential changes may include creating a virtual ‘green room’ for people giving call-in testimony to streamline the process, and a countdown clock so people watching the meetings know when a speaker will be done testifying.”
Additionally, under the new system, members of the public will be able to bring videos, charts or other items to present during their testimony to the council. Currently, those multimedia pieces must be submitted to Maland in advance of testimony, according to the Union-Tribune.
Closed captioning of meetings will be displayed on a screen at the front of the chambers instead of one at the rear of the room, as it is organized now. The upgrades will also include new headphones for people who are hearing-impaired.
The city hopes to finish the renovations during the council’s August recess, but some of the work might be delayed until December, Maland says.
There have been clear growing pains as the council shifted to remote meetings during the pandemic, with citizens struggling to know when to call into meetings to provide testimony and when to start speaking. The current system, which was installed in 2005, is also aging and in need of an upgrade
“We have been able to keep the system functional, but it is limited,” Maland says.
Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute, tells StateTech that state and local government bodies should provide video tutorials on how to access virtual meetings and have IT support on hand to troubleshoot problems. He notes that users are likely not as technologically sophisticated as IT staff or some government officials. Agencies also should put their meetings on technology platforms that are easy to use and can be accessed via smartphones and tablets.