Elkins installs new streaming system

ELKINS — Elkins City Council will meet at City Hall tonight — and for the first time, the in-person event will be streamed live online, thanks to a new $3,500 system.

Electronic Specialty, of Dunbar, has installed the streaming system, which will transmit both audio and video from council chambers.

“There aren’t many cities in West Virginia we know of that have deployed this kind of capability,” said Mark Wood, the AV manager for Electronic Specialty. “Elkins is kind of on the cutting edge by going this route.”

Electronic Specialty, which updated the council chambers’ sound system in 2020, recommended a streaming system that “uses a broadcast-quality high-definition PTZOptics camera with a 12x optical zoom to capture video. Digital audio is captured from the chamber’s new sound board. An AV encoder streams the resulting signal to the city’s social media pages,” a City of Elkins press release states.

“We’ve set up streaming systems for a lot of churches, county commissions, courts, and even the state legislature, and we’re always evaluating new equipment,” Wood said. “The PTZOptics camera is an excellent balance of cost and quality for this kind of setup.”

Elkins City Council virtual meetings have been streamed online during the COVID-19 pandemic, but “technical issues encountered using commercial conferencing services during the pandemic drove home the need for a better way to share council meetings with remote viewers,” the release states.

“We’re always looking for ways to increase transparency and provide the public with as much information as possible about their city government,” Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton said. “The strategic plan council adopted in 2018 included a goal of increasing public engagement, and broadcasting council meetings is a great step in that direction.”

The streamed meetings can be viewed live and will also be archived on the city’s social media sites.

“Council makes decisions that affects thousands of people, including residents and business owners, and all of those people have the right to observe the process and understand how their representatives are arriving at those decisions,” Sutton said. “By making it simple and convenient to view meetings online, the new streaming system really underlines our commitment to transparency and public engagement.”

At first only city council meetings will be streamed, “to allow city officials and staff to learn and test the system,” the release states. “In the fall, city staff will evaluate the possibility of broadcasting committee meetings as well.”

Elkins City Council will meet at 7 p.m. tonight in City Hall.


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