Cities show future of streaming video

Cerritos streaming video site

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Although streaming video is not a new technology, its use in government has been limited. Now a few California cities are showing how it could become a full-fledged part of governments' e-business approach.

Using a solution supplied by San Francisco-based Granicus Inc., the cities provide "on demand" video of such things as council meetings, emergency updates and employee training programs. The system also publishes each video to the Web with a searchable index, which allows users to jump to those parts of the video in which they are interested.

The ability to annotate meeting agendas and link them with certain parts of the video was a big attraction for officials in Cerritos, Calif., according to Annie Luger, the city's public information manager.

"[The Granicus system] has a drop-down menu that shows the entire agenda for a meeting, and if you know what you are looking for, it advances the video to that topic," she said. "It also has the ability to search for a topic over several meetings and come up with a list of possible matches as a result."

Cerritos officials wanted to provide residents with more than just a straight cable channel feed, Luger said. The city will continue to provide cable feeds of its meetings, but the Internet access offers another way for people to view city-produced videos.

The city's streaming video site has been getting about 3,000 hits per month for both the live streaming and archived video, Luger said.

That's a significant increase from the average 10 to 20 hits a month on most city sites, which provide only nonindexed video streams, said Tom Spengler, chief executive officer and co-founder of Granicus.

"Video should be looked on as just another part of Web content that can be manipulated like other forms of data — for example as part of a document management system," he said, adding that the future goal of his company is to provide the kind of video-over-IP platform that will enable that.

"If you can integrate documents on a particular topic with video relevant to that topic, then you have a really nice system."

In addition to Cerritos, Granicus' system is installed in several other California cities, as well as in Ventura County, Calif., and Honolulu County, Hawaii.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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