UPPER PROVIDENCE >> The township will soon join three local municipalities who provide video-recorded meetings for public access.
At the March 3 supervisors’ meeting, Information Technology Director Norman Wallace presented an updated proposal to install upgraded audio/visual equipment in the Township Hall. Currently, a ceiling mounted projector is used in conjunction with a pull-down screen and high-end sound system, to display images from a township laptop computer.
Kimberton’s Applied Video Technology proposes a comprehensive equipment, installation and training solution for the township to capture meetings as video images. Three robotic cameras would be installed at the front, rear, and one side of the main meeting room and two 70-inch high-definition flat panels screens would be placed on the sidewalls. Wallace reported AVT would also implement the currently underused features of the existing amplifier system.
The township would install 110v outlets for the three wall-mounted cameras. The existing projector and screen would be reserved for future use showing movies.
Wallace said that while the individual equipment could be purchased cheaper from vendors such as Amazon, AVT provides a “one throat to choke” solution. He told the board that AVT’s only competition is a Norristown-based company that installed television studios in Penn State satellite campuses.
Video recording production and mixing operations would be controlled from a portable table located the building’s tiled foyer prior to each meeting. This command center, along with wireless microphones and portable cameras, could be taken on the road to cover events at the Recreation Center or township parks. When not in use, the equipment rack would be locked inside the Township Hall. At least two employees would receive training to operate the cameras during meetings. Additional volunteers, such as boy scouts or high school students, could be trained as production operators.
AVT’s subsidiary Phoenix Media Group manages the video-enhanced municipalmeetings.com website, which includes channels for Lower Providence Township, Schuylkill Township and Phoenixville. A link to Lower Providence recorded supervisor meetings is available on their main web page.
For an additional annual fee, a media player could be included on the township’s www.uprov-montco.org website displaying the most recent video, with a link to view previous meetings retained on the township’s municipalmeetings.com channel. Wallace said this alternative storage solution would relieve the burden of managing the files on the township’s website and there is no limit as how many meetings could be stored by the vendor.
Wallace reported he toured a similar AVT installation. Tredyffrin Township’s TV Station Manager continues to purchase equipment from AVT, but instead of uploading video files to a website, that township offers a variety of programming on dedicated public access channels through Verizon, Comcast and video on demand. In contrast, Wallace told the board that township’s such as West Vincent in Chester County capture their meetings using one stationary camera pointed at the head table and an audio system, just so they can say they record meetings.
In a potential future phase, the township could join Tredyffrin by offering meeting videos and other programming on a dedicated local government channel available to Version and Comcast customers. Additional equipment necessary to move to that platform would cost at least $10,000.
Supervisors’ Chairwoman Lisa Mossie said she started this process a year ago. Because another vendor fell through, she thanked Wallace. “I’m glad that you picked up this ball and are running with because this is something I’ve been trying to get going for quite some time.” She said AVT is quite responsive, and she continues to receive company emails.
When Mossie asked the timing of an AVT installation after the contract is signed, Wallace predicted it would take a few weeks to order the equipment and schedule personnel.
Township Solicitor Edward Skypala raised concerns regarding ownership and maintenance of township video on the third-party site. When Skypala asked if there are contractual agreements limiting AVT’s use of the township-owned video files, Wallace said, “I’m sure there is. I’m not there yet.” Because the basic contract didn’t include those conditions, Wallace will seek additional terms and agreement information from AVT.
The 2015 budget does not include funding for implementing either a website or a government channel solution. Township Manager George Waterman said grants for $70,000 received in 2006 as part of franchise agreements with Comcast and Verizon have always been earmarked for such purchases. He said a resolution could be prepared for supervisor vote to confirm that fact.
In other news, Kevin Holhan was appointed as a Zoning Hearing Board alternate.