Is your City Ready for Mandated Hybrid Meetings?

Updated: May 03, 2023

A man sits on office desk as he uses a laptop and records himself using a phone, to illustrate joining a meeting virtually

From Fortune 500 companies to private colleges, videoconferencing is now a fact of life. Hybrid meetings – which bring together in-person and remote participants – are an everyday occurrence in the worlds of business, education and more. And now, state and local governments are starting to consider hybrid meeting mandates.

Consider Bill H.3025, “An Act Relative to Remote Access for Public Bodies and Town Meetings,” a current legislative action with 20 petitioners in Massachusetts. It allows for remote meeting participation “provided that all persons present at the meeting are clearly audible to each other.” Further, public access to the meeting must be ensured “through adequate, alternative means of public access.” You can read the bill here.

Basically, if that bill becomes law, officials and the general public will literally be able to “phone it in” for official meetings. Is your PEG station ready for that? How do you get started?

If hybrid meetings become a reality in your coverage area, your operation needs to be ready to include a “virtual join” option for participants. That includes elected officials, additional government personnel, petitioners and involved parties, and members of the community who may wish to offer comments.

Make sure your setup can support a native feed from the government agency’s videoconferencing platform. If they use Zoom, for example, they will need to provide you with access – you don’t want to record the image of a monitor showing a Zoom meeting and hope for the best. Remember, the audio will be the most important part of the feed, and this type of second-hand recording is a recipe for unintelligible audio.

You also don’t want to rely on the videoconferencing platform to record its content, because that will add more steps to your VOD process (and, again, quality becomes a question). Instead, you’ll want to take that feed from the government agency and record it directly into your video server. If it’s a true hybrid meeting, with a mix of in-person and remote participants, you should have an input on your video switcher available to “take” the videoconferencing feed when remote participants are speaking.

With hybrid meetings, you will likely need to make sure the general public knows they can be a part of the proceedings remotely. With Cablecast’s built-in DSK, you can add a crawl on all your distribution platforms to let viewers know when the meeting is live, so viewers know when they are able to participate, not just watch.

Not every municipality will consider hybrid meeting options, but many will. If it happens in your area, make sure you are prepared to deliver the same great coverage with the added element of remote participation.

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