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City of Dawsonville now broadcasting meetings
city gets video streaming
Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason, left, reviews plans April 25 for a new video streaming and recording system that was recently installed in the meeting rooms at city hall. Graham White, project manager for WH Platts, the company the city council hired to install the equipment, explains where the cameras and new lighting fixtures will be placed. - photo by Allie Dean

Despite the small hiccup of home viewers not being able to hear what was said, the city of Dawsonville on Monday debuted a new video streaming and recording system and for the first time ever broadcast a city council meeting live on Facebook.

In March the council voted to have WH Platts install audio, video and lighting elements to the main meeting room so that the city could record and broadcast its meetings.

The room already had an audio system, but David Strupp with WH Platts said the only thing his company could likely salvage were the microphones.

WH Platts was the low bidder and has installed similar systems at Hall County, the city of Gainesville and the city of Johns Creek.

The cost of the system was around $68,000.

Graham White, project manager for WH Platts, was working to install the system on April 25.

He explained the importance of good lighting for streaming meetings, and said that the Gainesville audio visual system has been a blueprint for the other city government streaming systems in the area.

“We’ve probably done five other city governments now, and we’re kind of the go-to company for that whole template,” White said. “It’s been good; this is kind of our recipe.”

He pointed out the three cameras mounted in the back of the room to allow for different views of the council members, mayor and staff, and a fourth camera that faces the podium, where staff and other speakers address the council and mayor.

Two monitors are mounted on either side of the council bench, and each council member and the mayor have their own monitor as well.

The city also set up the Joe Lane Cox conference room as an overflow room, with a monitor and sound, so that if the main meeting room was ever too full, citizens could still see and hear what was happening from the adjacent room.

Four speakers are now installed in the meeting room as opposed to just two.

A control room right outside the main meeting room houses a desk-mounted control panel for the whole system. The operator can switch between cameras depending on who is speaking.

“For these meetings, it can be one person operating the whole show,” White said. “It will be a good system; they got the good toys for sure.”

 But when it came time to test the system in real time at 7 p.m. on Monday, the city couldn’t quite get the show off the ground. The video streamed online, but no audio could be heard.

"The only glitch in the entire process was lack of audio on the live stream," said City Manager Bob Bolz on Tuesday. "It is to be resolved by Thursday."

Bolz said the city plants to stream planning commission, Historic Preservation Commission and Downtown Development Authority meetings. 

Though the system’s inaugural voyage was a little less than perfect, the council members are hopeful that the broadcast will aid in the city’s transparency and help get citizens involved.

“It’s important that we have this available for those who are unable to attend for whatever reason, so they can see what is going on and participate at least on some level,” said councilman Mark French.