The Challenges Of AV In Council Spaces

Kevin Beazley | June 10, 2019

City councils and courtrooms are embracing technology to streamline processes, eliminate paper, and reduce the workload for staff. Audio systems can play a role in this by not only improving sound quality within the room, but by providing features that support decision-making and accommodating participants at remote locations.

Conferencing Systems That Meet Council Needs

You may be familiar with the basic sound systems found in almost every local government chamber or courtroom. But you may not know that there’s a unique type of audio system that goes beyond sound reinforcement to include features that are specifically designed to support the processes of discussion, decision, documentation, and information distribution that underpin formal meetings. These conference systems combine the microphone and loudspeaker in one unit, and add meeting management features like voting and participant identification.

Discussion is the fundamental activity of any meeting. That means that Job #1 for any audio equipment is to provide clear, intelligible sound that enables council members to hear each other and be heard by citizens attending the meeting. Council members can control their own microphones, or the chairman or an assistant can activate them remotely. Some conference systems even offer advanced features like speech timers.

Shure MXC conferencing system in Council Space

Many municipalities also provide a live stream of council meetings, making good audio doubly important. A conference system can also provide metadata that can be used to overlay the speaker’s name, title, vote results, or other information on the video feed.

When it’s time to make a decision, the conference system allows each participant to cast their vote electronically, and the chairman to see the results on a screen. Some systems even support parliamentary voting, with a variety of quorum and passage calculations to match the organization's procedures.

Since city councils and similar organizations are required to document their meetings, a conference system can generate post-meeting reports that capture attendance, who spoke, who voted, and when the meeting started and ended. Reports can be posted for public access if desired.

To reduce the need to distribute paper documents to council members, the conference system can be linked to a personal computer at each seat to facilitate access to relevant documents. Meeting information like the speaker list or vote results can also be displayed on video monitors so the audience can keep up.

When council chambers occupy rooms with historic or architectural significance that makes cable installation impractical, wireless conference systems offer added convenience. With many of the same features as wired systems, a wireless conference system can also be used in committee rooms or even at off-site town hall meetings.

Conference systems marry communication with governance. They enable city councils and other organizations to focus more on core activities like decision-making and planning, while delivering meetings that serve their constituents efficiently and effectively.

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Kevin Beazley

Kevin Beazley is the conferencing systems manager for Shure UK Systems Group. He specialises in the design of conferencing and discussion systems.