WINDERMERE – Several months ago, Windermere resident Joe Foglia stepped through the double doors of the Windermere Town Hall, and a thought came to his mind: Why aren’t the meetings livestreamed?
Foglia, who works as a sound engineer in the motion picture industry, spends much time out of town and is unable to attend most of the town council’s meetings despite wanting to remain up to date with the happenings of the town he’s resided in since 1996.
“I’m personally always out of town working on shows, and I miss all the meetings and it was becoming frustrating for me because there were different topics they would present and, you know, I wanted to educate myself and not rely on hearsay,” Foglia said.
Given his situation, Foglia decided to do some research and present his findings to the council when he returned. He realized the project was entirely doable and decided to help the town set up a system with at least three motorized 1080p cameras with remote zoom capabilities that can hook up to a device that allows the town to stream the town council meetings in real-time, which would be accessible to anyone with a computer and internet access.
“My feelings were, you know, we need to update Windermere, and we need to get it out more and get some more people involved in developing the community because I feel that we waste a lot of time trying to catch up on what’s going on,” Foglia said. “So I think by livestreaming (the meetings) we’d be able to reach people that really want to go and want to know what’s going on but can’t attend.”
Years ago, Foglia said he considered broadcasting the meeting on a radio station, but with the advent of higher tech and cost-effective, high-quality cameras, he reasoned that livestreaming the meeting on social media is an opportunity that the town should embrace to avoid potential hearsay from spreading misinformation and to make it easier for all residents to be informed.
“A lot of people in the town are misled by hearsay and they either miss the meetings or they don’t know what’s going on or they may comment sometimes on something that is happening that if they were at the meeting, they would understand.”
To that end, Foglia has contacted various companies in search of the hardware and software such a system would require. At this point, the total estimated cost for the whole system is $36,563, which would include the cameras, internet network upgrades, the broadcast system, and a user-friendly media streaming device that would allow the use of subtitles for the hearing impaired, on-screen graphics that identify each speaker and the inclusion of a watermark with the town’s logo.
“I don’t want to say that we’re getting left behind, but it’s just that in a lot of the bigger towns, it’s sort of common practice,” Foglia said. “And I think that we need to step it up a notch.”
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]