Ocean City Today

Commissioners take second shot at meeting video

By Brian Gilliland | Jul 20, 2017

(July 21, 2017) Though it may feel true, Worcester County is not the last county in Maryland to provide video records of its county commissioner meetings, though the board took action for the second time on Tuesday to provide that service.

Caroline, Dorchester, Garrett and Somerset counties join Worcester in not providing video access to county commissioner meetings.

Though long on the back burner, it wasn’t until last year the county contracted with ePlus to provide video of its meetings, but the government ended up exercising a return option, as it was dissatisfied with the results.

The commissioners voted to sign with Swagit, a privately held company in Dallas, Texas, that provides hands-free video solutions to governments. The total installation costs are almost $53,000, which includes hardware, software and video capturing equipment. From there, the company provides three content packages, none of which allow native live streaming of meetings — that service is offered as a premium.

The prices reflect an additional service Swagit calls indexing. Indexed meetings split the browser window into two panes with the meeting’s agenda accompanying the video player. Users can click on indexed agenda items to jump to that conversation during the video playback.

All of the price packages include video streaming, but the least expensive option leaves out the indexing for $195 per month. Indexing each meeting before it is uploaded to the county’s website costs $495 per month, and indexing plus allowing Swagit to control the cameras and shots during the meeting costs $695 per month.

Additional meeting coverage is available as a flat $150 fee. The allocated 25 meetings would cover all of the county commissioner’s annual meetings, but special budget sessions or additional work sessions would likely cost extra.

County staff recommended, and the commissioners approved, the most expensive option.

Three cameras will be installed in the commissioner’s meeting room at the government center in Snow Hill. Swagit will control those cameras remotely, and each HD camera is capable of 10 different shots focusing on the board, the dais or a particular speaker.

IT Manager Brian Jones said he didn’t know how quickly recorded meetings would appear on the website after the sessions end, but assumed it would be less than 24 hours.

No estimate was given on when the new system would be installed.

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