In an effort to boost community engagement Adelaide City Council has rolled out live web-based streaming for its committee meetings, utilising Microsoft Skype for Business’ Skype Meeting Broadcast module.
David Carroll, team leader of ICT at Adelaide City Council, was tasked last year with trialling an online streaming solution to make council proceedings more accessible.
“It’s really about lifting the level of engagement opportunity for customers of Adelaide City Council, whether they be ratepayers, visitors to the city or just residents of Adelaide,” Carroll said.
The project came out of a council motion in the first half of 2015 to investigate options for live streaming. The IT team assessed a range of options before settling on Lync 2013 at the beginning of the trial in July 2015.
“It was initially a six-month trial to assess how it works and get statistics on how useful it was for our customers, and also to allow us to work through the business case and so forth,” Carroll said.
The council was already using the Microsoft UC platform, in 2012 having replaced its PABX system with Lync back before it was rebranded as Skype for Business. Among Australian government organisations, the council was a relatively early adopter of Lync as a PABX replacement, Carroll said.
“As we approached November we learned of Skype for Business Broadcast and we were very, very keen to get on board and use it to continue the trial,” he said.
“The architecture of how Lync does online meetings introduced some complexities for us, but earlier this year Microsoft brought Skype for Business broadcast capability to Australia and we were keen to jump on board,” Carroll said. “We did and it was very successful.”
“All of the previous issues we’d had were redundant – they no longer applied because of the architectural changes of how the meetings are broadcast,” he added.
Previously the council had suffered some technical issues, such as jitter, that Carroll attributed to the council being the host for the online meetings.
“But Skype for Business Broadcast moves all of that workload up to the Azure platform, which Microsoft manages,” the IT manager said. “Obviously the Internet links for those sorts of things are way beyond the sorts of things our organisation has in place”
The public viewing gallery in the council’s meeting room can only fit around 50 people. Typically, each meeting is now viewed online by up to 130 people, and one meeting has attracted 500 online viewers.