Given protocols in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, physical attendance has been limited at Derby City Council and other local meetings held at city hall. As such, watching meetings on Channel 7 or the city’s website has been highly encouraged for citizens wanting to keep informed.
To better facilitate online viewing of meetings, the city recently took on an upgrade project of the council chamber’s A/V system.
“We replaced essentially all of the audio visual equipment in the room, with the exception of the microphones,” said Director of Operations Ted Austin. “We replaced the audio equipment in the back room. We replaced the projectors and the cameras – we went to high def. The piece that records the meetings, the piece that switches between camera shots, that’s all being replaced.”
Additionally, the city will be getting a new server to help manage archival video storage.
Recording equipment was last upgraded 10 to 15 years ago, according to Austin, though at least one camera was original to when the council moved into the new chambers in 2001. Given the age and limited capabilities, the upgrade project was already on city staff’s radar, but Austin said that became even more timely once the pandemic hit.
“Some of the equipment was showing signs of failure and is no longer supported, so we were going to have to make some changes just to keep the room running. The other thing we wanted to do for quite a while is improve the quality of the output of the room, both in sound and visual, so we put in higher definition cameras and the equipment that can send that to the internet,” Austin said. “With the pandemic, we’ll probably have less people come to the meeting and they’ll be more likely to watch it online or on Channel 7. This gives them a better quality signal to watch and gives them that option to do that. They’ve always had that option, but they might be more likely to do that now.”
In fact, the project was slated to start sooner but was on hold due to the coronavirus situation.
Originally, Austin said the plan was to start upgrades three weeks ago, but some of the equipment got delayed because of the pandemic. Instead, the city’s contractor (WAV Services) started work on the project after the city council meeting April 28 and got almost all the upgrades installed – they are still waiting on one piece of equipment – within the span of a week.
Cost of the project totaled around $70,000. While Austin said it doesn’t really change anything the city was doing, the project provided reliable equipment and improved audio and visual quality – both for those present in the chambers and those watching online – moving forward.