Brookfield will begin livestreaming and archiving video of village board meetings in January, making good on a promise made in November 2020 when officials rolled out new agenda management software.
Assistant Village Manager George Issakoo confirmed that Brookfield on Jan. 10, 2022 will begin livestreaming its village board meetings on the village website brookfieldil.gov and on YouTube. The meetings also will be archived so residents can watch them at their convenience.
“It was definitely a village board priority to have increased transparency,” said Issakoo, who added that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and limits on the number of people who could attend meetings in person amplified the need for broadcasting meetings.
The iCompass agenda management software was chosen, said Issakoo, because it has a video streaming tie-in. The streaming software, called Boxcast, allows not only livestreaming meetings as they happen, but when archived the videos will be indexed by agenda item, allowing viewers to watch discussion of items they are specifically interested in instead of hunting for them or watching the whole video.
Last month two video cameras were installed on the walls of the village council chamber. They are both high-definition cameras with full pan-tilt-zoom capability, said Issakoo, allowing cameras to focus on individual speakers or wider shots of the room where trustees and staff sit.
Issakoo and Management Analyst Kathryn Angell are being trained to operate the camera system. They did their first rough run-though, which was not televised to the public, at the Brookfield Village Board’s meeting on Nov. 22. A more formal test will take place during the upcoming Dec. 13 meeting before going live in January.
“There are a lot of technical things we have to learn,” said Issakoo. “We’re looking to capture the meeting and make sure it’s clear. It’ll be a huge improvement and increase transparency.”
For now village board meetings are the only meetings that will be recorded and archived on video.
“The biggest issue is the staff time and manpower it takes,” said Issakoo.
Because village board meetings are attended by the entire management team, including Issakoo and Angell, streaming those meetings is easy from a staffing point of view.
Other meetings typically have one or two staff, often who need to participate actively, which makes it more difficult to stream those sessions.
“It’s a big step forward,” Issakoo said of getting the streaming platform up and running for village board meetings. “After it’s up we’ll assess how difficult it is to expand it further.”
Issakoo said plans are also in the works to televise meetings on the cable access channel Comcast has allotted to Brookfield, where a slideshow now runs. It’s uncertain whether that viewing option will be available in January, but it will be an option in the future.
Televising village board meetings was an explicit goal set out by the village manager’s office in Brookfield’s 2021 budget. The village board earmarked $50,000 for the implementation of the system, but Issakoo said the project has come in far under that amount.
Purchase and installation was less than $10,000, said Issakoo, and it will cost $4,500 annually for the streaming platform.