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January 20, 2008

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Town Honored for Technology Excellence with Granicus Solutions
Award Distinguishes Streamlined and Open Government

North Kingstown, RI Granicus, Inc., the nation's leading provider of solutions for government webcasting and public meeting management, announced today that its partnership with the Town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, has been nationally recognized for technology excellence. Public Technology Institute (PTI) has honored North Kingstown with the 2007-2008 Public Technology Solutions Award for "Web Services Providing a Streamlined and Open Government" for making vast improvements to public access and staff efficiency using one straightforward and cost-effective solution. The Town's IT Director, Jason Albuquerque, will accept the award at the PTI 2008 Technology Leadership Conference Exposition to be held May 6-8 in Miami, Florida.

"I consider this to be a meaningful recognition of the town IT department and the strides we have made in providing increased web services and information. The award is confirmation of the direction the Town Council requested we move in for IT and web services. It also reinforces the forward thinking and expertise of our IT department," said Michael Embury, North Kingstown Town Manager.

PTI recognizes local governments for demonstrating the use of technology innovation to improve service delivery, reduce operating costs, and create new revenue opportunities. North Kingstown's IT department faced increasing demands for open access to critical public information and for a more streamlined approach to records management and information processing. However, they had limited funds and staffing resources. To solve this, they partnered with Granicus to deploy a solution that helped them easily meet both challenges. North Kingstown used Granicus's webcasting and public meeting management solutions to streamline management of public meeting information and to institute an effective channel for sharing this knowledge with the public.

North Kingstown was awarded in the smallest population category (1 to 99,000), demonstrating that noteworthy success with digital technology can give small jurisdictions working with limited resources a competitive edge. "We are infinitely proud of our partnership with North Kingstown. Their outstanding achievement validates how vital web technology is to local governments of all sizes," said Tom Spengler, Co-Founder and CEO of Granicus. "This award reaffirms our commitment to helping any governing body improve openness and efficiency using flexible solutions that consistently exceed expectations for affordability and cost-effectiveness."

Granicus enables North Kingstown staff to webcast public meetings integrated with related documents such as agendas, minutes, and policy or staff reports. Granicus software offers user-friendly tools for minutes annotation, public recordkeeping, and media management, helping the Town Council foster a centralized repository for the public to access and easily search for information. Since they began using Granicus, the town has seen a 90% Return-on-Investment from improved workflow efficiency. Within the first five months, over 20,000 people viewed their webcasts. "Our IT team has brought open government closer to North Kingstown's citizens through the introduction of a variety of web-based tools. These technology initiatives have also facilitated consolidation possibilities between our Town and School departments," said Edward J. Cooney, Town Council President.

***

About Granicus

Founded in 1999, San Francisco-based Granicus helps government and constituents communicate without barriers. Serving more than 400 governing bodies in 39 states and reaching more than 25% of the American population, Granicus solutions enable vital improvements to public access, civic engagement, government accountability, and efficiency. We manage the world's largest government webcasting network, supporting more than 85,000 public meetings and other government content, securely and reliably bringing vital government information closer to the people.


FYI, here is an update I received yesterday from city staff re: the installation of Granicus:

Astound Broadband is installing dedicated broadband service to city hall to bypass the city network. Dedicated broadband will serve Granicus server and the newly installed audio equipment. Installation to take a few weeks because fiber is being brought in from remote Astound location. Once the broadband connection is in place we install the Grancius server.

Don't want to give you a date given that it keeps being pushed back as issues develop (most of them dealing with an old city hall, none with Granicus).

Adding on to my earlier post, the following is from the minutes of the 5/28 Budget Study Session:

FinDir Nava stated that the Council Chambers audio upgrades are complete; however, more work is to be done. Astound will provide internet service at no charge to the City to enable Granicus to complete connection of their equipment. Web streaming capability is expected in mid to late summer depending on completion of equipment connections. Councilwoman Nagel asked if there is a possibility of televising more meetings through public access TV. FinDir Nava stated that possibly PenTV would broadcast some meetings depending on available funding.

Interesting tidbit from the Bill Pauls' column today; looks like Half Moon Bay will soon be the only remaining city nearby without this capability:

"In many communities you can watch city council meetings live on the Web or via cable TV public access channels, or you can watch archives of past meetings via the Web. In southern San Mateo County, every large city but Burlingame and Half Moon Bay offered live or archived meetings via the Web. For example, on Monday night I watched on my computer as open space activists addressed the Redwood City council describing their campaign to change the city charter. They were asking for the council's endorsement of their drive. In addition, some neighbors of Sequoia High School were protesting the school's rerouting of outgoing traffic through their streets."

Entire column:
http://www.theburlingamedailynews.com/article/2008-6-26-05-26-08-bil-paul

Here is the latest on the Granicus installation (from City Council Progress Report dated 6/30/08, a PDF file on the city's website):
All ADA construction work completed. All audio equipment installed and working. Waiting for dedicated
computer to be installed to monitor audio equipment remotely and provide digital audio recordings. Waiting
for Astound to install dedicated broadband service to Council Chambers and IT Server Room. Once
broadband service is established Granicus server will be installed and setup to receive video and audio signal.
Still looking for appropriate ADA certified lectern to purchase and install. Finance Director and City Clerk
attended Granicus training on Friday, June 20, 2008.

Here's an interesting initiative regarding technology and democracy (relative to blogs like Burlingame Voice, as well as Granicus' platform): http://www.personaldemocracy.com/about

Joanne

Thank you, Lorne. That is an interesting site. And, a big thank you for all your work in getting the city to move to the video stream. Any word on when that will actually happen?

Thank you Joanne. It looks like Granicus is getting closer, as I notice on the agenda for this coming Monday's Council meeting the following item (8A):
a. Resolution approving free internet service from Astound Broadband and providing recognition for free service - Approve/Recognize

Per my prior posts above, Granicus equipment requires a separate dedicated Internet line for connectivity; Astound appears to be the provider. You'll also see the Finance Director and City Clerk have recently attended Granicus training.

Lorne

Here's an interesting article about a current initiative by the mayor of Belmont. Regardless of the end result, another indicator of how technology can be potentially harnessed for civic engagement:

BELMONT The mayor who schedules monthly lunches to discuss concerns with residents is suggesting that locals should be able to connect with their city government in a new way.
In a recent memo to council members, Mayor Warren Lieberman proposed that residents who follow the meetings from home via webcast could participate in real time by phoning in or e-mailing questions for an allotted period of about 15 to 20 minutes.

The calls or e-mails could be sent anonymously, since community members are not required to state their name or residence when they speak at meetings, the mayor said.

Councilmember Coralin Feierbach, however, is strongly opposed to the idea, saying the mayor hasn't considered that the calls or e-mails could potentially disrupt meetings and open up a Pandora's box of free-speech issues.

If you look at the blogs that are on some of our local newspapers, there are some really vitriolic comments made against people,? Feierbach said. How are you going to oversee it??

Feierbach said she fears the anonymity would encourage troublemakers to hurl insults, death threats or pretend to be someone they're not. She said the city would have to hire someone to proctor the calls and e-mails coming in, which could cost taxpayers.

Who's going to monitor the four-letter words?? she said.

Lieberman, who declared 2008 the year of the community,? said the costs of such a service would be minimal and would not require a new hire. Any current staff member, including the mayor, could be tasked with monitoring the e-mails and calls, he said.

The vast majority of input we will get are from people who are seeking to get involved,? he said. A lot of people want to be involved in local government, but say it's too difficult to find the time.?

The idea, Lieberman said, was inspired by a similar virtual? town-hall meeting held by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, which allows residents to phone in questions.

Last year, a similar idea brought to Belmont's City Council was batted down over concerns the service would be difficult to operate in council chambers.

This time, however, the mayor said he has asked city staff to find a way to make it work.

He said he hopes the staff will return with a feasibility report before his term as mayor ends in December.

Speaking of Belmont, it appears their Planning Commission also uses webstreaming/archived webcasts, not just the City Council:
http://www.communitymediacenter.net/watch/belmont_webcast/belmont_ondemand_PC.html

Latest update: According to City staff, Granicus webstreaming/archiving is now slated to go "live" at the October 20th Council meeting.

Lorne

Following excerpt from Council goals PDF on the city's website; confirms 10/20 live launch of Granicus webstreaming/archiving!
-------------
All ADA (Americans Disability) construction work completed. All audio equipment installed and working properly. Dedicated
broadband service to Council Chambers and IT Server Room completed. Granicus launch date set for
October 20, 2008. Still looking for appropriate ADA certified lectern to purchase and install.

jt3605

Launch date rescheduled for November 3rd

Hi jt3605 -- Where did you get the rescheduled date from? Thanks

Lorne

Staff confirmed that new "go live" date is indeed 11/3, due to computer equipment delivery delay. Dry run "live training" occuring at 10/20 Council meeting. Great to see all the pieces coming together!

Lorne

Governments Meet Economic Challenges with Granicus Solutions
11 Sep 2008

by: Lauren Alexander

Agencies Leverage Webcasting and Meeting Management to Decrease Costs and Build Public Trust
San Francisco, CA Granicus, Inc., the nation's leading provider of solutions for government webcasting and public meeting management, announced today that nearly 150 government agencies have adopted its technology so far this year, despite widespread economic challenges.

The state of today's economy is presenting new challenges for cities, counties, special districts, and state agencies. Budget deficits, the downturn in local property tax revenue, employee layoffs, and cuts to services are creating a sense of uncertainty among constituents. In spite of these difficulties, nearly double the number of government agencies than a year ago are investing in government transparency with technology provided by Granicus.

Election-year rhetoric commonly emphasizes the proud tradition of open government. This year, governments are taking action and delivering real transparency, which is building trust in their communities and saving them money. To do this, they are turning to new technologies to build public confidence through increased openness, accountability, and efficiency. Citizen demands on government are also shaping today's necessity for government transparency. The public wants more transparency in deliberation, decision-making, and policy-making. As a result, government agencies are seeking long-term, affordable technology solutions to strengthen open government.

Our exclusive focus on the public sector enables us to see a strong trend developing among government agencies. We're not surprised by the fact that agencies are recognizing that the budget crisis serves as an opportunity to make instrumental changes to the way they do business,? says Tom Spengler, Co-Founder and CEO of Granicus. ?Today, many public agencies are increasingly relying on technology solutions that create transparency and result in more public trust while decreasing both their communications and legislative costs. Granicus's remarkable market growth confirms the strong demand by citizens for transparency. Governments are applying webcasting and public meeting management solutions to fill transparency voids in their legislative and administrative processes.?

This year alone, a wide variety of small towns, metropolitan cities, school districts, special districts, and state agencies have adopted Granicus solutions expanding the company's client base into 44 states across the nation. This broad range points to the prevalence of this trend among all types of governing bodies with differing powers and policy needs. Among them are:

Town of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona
City of Ivins, Utah
City of San Marcos, Texas
City of Dallas, Texas
Washington, D.C.
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Knox County, Tennessee
Alexandria City Public Schools, Virginia
Port of Oakland, California
South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation
Tuolumne Utilities District, California
Northwest Suburbs Cable Communications Commission (NWSCCC)
New York State Liquor Authority
Granicus software and services help agencies easily set up online repositories of government webcasts and digital documents all cross-linked, keyword-searchable, and conveniently accessible online 24/7. Granicus specializes in minimizing the impact webcasting has on staff time. Realtime streaming media indexing is built into public meeting management software for minutes-annotation and vote control, so government agencies can automate their processes and help ensure accountability at the same time. Staff from different departments and locations in governmental organizations can easily control their own content, while sharing hardware, software, storage, and bandwidth resources from a single system. These benefits provide agencies with a low cost of ownership.

This strong trend amidst difficult financial times is leading to smart cost cutting in public agencies across the U.S. The technology solutions they're increasingly turning to are from Granicus.

About Granicus
Founded in 1999, San Francisco-based Granicus, Inc. helps government reach staff and constituents without barriers. Public agencies trust our webcasting solutions to enable vital improvements to public access, staff efficiency, and government accountability. In addition, the combination of webcasting with public meeting management technology into a single workflow decreases administrative costs and simplifies public recordkeeping tasks. Granicus serves more than 400 governing bodies in 44 states, building close connections with more than 30% of the American population.

Contact
Lauren Alexander
Corporate Communications Manager
415-357-3618 x1788

I'm happy to see the Burlingame Elementary School District has increased its own stakeholder transparency by contracting with an external web hosting service to post more detailed board trustee meeting summaries on line, including corresponding staff reports. The service they are utilizing appears to be designed specifically for school boards: http://www.csbaagendaonline.net/

Glad to see this as a stated objective of the Council for the next year (1/31 Study Session-Goal Setting), as a continuation/leveraging of Granicus:
Provide searchable audio copies of Planning Commission meeting online for Web streaming and listening after meetings.

Ron Fulderon

I just went to the city site and found the videos. Unfortunately I first went to the most current one (Feb 17th) and the audio is totally unlistenable. Giving up on that one I tried another and that was fine.

The city spent a good deal of money on this and will be spending more each year to offer this service. Do we have any statistics to tell us how many people are using this?

Good to see Burligame is part of broader, national initiative:

http://www.granicus.com/Transparency/Drive-To-A-Million.aspx

Joanne

Thanks again, Lorne, for your work in making this happen. There is one thing I wish could be improved: When I access the meetings on my computer, I cannot fast forward to certain agenda items (I must listen to the entire 2-3 hour meeting, to get the 15 minutes I am interested in). Is there a way that the meetings could be taped so that certain sections are more easily accessible?
(I asked one of the guys at the Apple store and he said he thought it was the way it was being taped).

Hi Joanne -- You should indeed be able to scroll by agenda topic. For instance, try viewing the latest March 2 meeting, and "click" on one of the agenda items in the yellow box on the left side of your screen (under the video of the meeting itself). You can also search by key word, too.

Lorne

Nice to see this as a stated goal for the council for '09-'10 (leveraging/maximizing community's return on investment for Granicus): "Once the transition to the new Granicus online recording has been up and running successfully for a six months, explore providing searchable audio copies of Planning Commission meetings online for Web streaming and listening after meetings."

song mastering

The role of music producer is not necessarily a technical one, with the physical aspects of recording being assumed by the audio engineer, and so producers often leave the similarly technical mixing process to a specialist audio mixer

Lorne

FYI, per last week’s City Council meeting, the following new add-on will be part of Burlingame’s contract with Granicus (which is currently being used to live stream/archive meetings for the Council, planning commission and traffic/parking/safety commission). Citizens will be able to post comments/feedback on specific agenda items prior to council meetings, and I trust these will be visible to the public. Kudos to the city for this additional benefit/citizen engagement mechanism:

https://granicus.com/pdfs/product_eComment.pdf

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