Using video to demonstrate democracy

Using video to demonstrate democracy

A well-known American documentary film-maker once said “Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event. If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy”.

Local and regional governments and community bodies now recognise that the best way to keep their electorates informed and engaged is by showing them what the authority is doing. Debates are frequently open to the public, but how much more powerful would the engagement be if anyone could watch from their own homes, as it happens or at their own convenience.

Smaller governments and municipalities will not have the resources to set up their own television channels, of course. But today we are all used to watching “television” over the internet.

Live streaming is more than just showing events as they happen. It means setting up a schedule and delivering programmes and information, just like a conventional channel, but available online.

For governments and municipal bodies the attractions are obvious. You meet local compliance mandates by making information available to all. You engage the electorate in local issues, and validate elected officials, by showing them the debates in full council or in committees, explaining the issues and the competing arguments.

Live streaming for government not only makes the information available, it delivers it in a timely fashion, driving decision-making forward. Commercial enterprises are widely using video to explain and to market: why should democracy be any different?

The challenge for local authority streaming is that it is seen as a complex and potentially expensive technology, far removed from the core government responsibilities. There is a need for a solution that makes live streaming for municipalities simple to implement and operate, and with minimal budgetary impact.

PlayBox Technology has been delivering automated, integrated playout systems for broadcasters and other bodies for 15 years. It is a market leader in all-in-one solutions. Its products are entirely implemented in software which runs on industry-standard computers, needing no specialist hardware other than video inputs if necessary.

It supports both live content and pre-recorded programmes, so it can stream debates as they happen, and fill the rest of the schedule with repeated chamber sessions and other informative material. Creating a schedule is as simple as dragging and dropping items into the timeline. Live debates are automatically recorded and can be scheduled for replay immediately.

Quality is not an issue. Typically PlayBox systems run in HD, although higher resolutions are supported should you want to go to 4k Ultra HD. Graphics and captions are simple to create, using templates to ensure a consistent look and feel.

Playout is completely automated and runs 24/7 without attention. The only operational requirements are to set out schedules and, if needed, create new captions.

Governments, municipalities and communities can implement live streaming with PlayBox quickly and cost-effectively. It has little impact on budget and operations, but potentially a huge impact on democracy.