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Shores town meetings to be live on internet in January

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of November 23, 2023)

Beginning in January, Indian River Shores residents and anyone else who is interested will be able to watch all the town meetings, livestreamed on the internet on the town’s YouTube channel.

While Indian River County, City of Vero Beach, the City of Sebastian and even the City of Fellsmere have offered a way to view or join council meetings remotely, Indian River Shores’ business meetings have always been an in-person-only experience with simply a voice recording taken and used by the town clerk to type up the minutes.

The Shores began upgrading its audio and video equipment in late 2022 and early 2023 as part of an overhaul of town hall facilities, so meetings could be videotaped and reviewed. There was one camera angle facing east to videotape the whole town council and top staff.

Then over the summer, a second camera facing west was added to capture the speaker and most of the audience, as the podium was moved from the south end of the dais to the center of the room, facing the council. Town staff first test-broadcasted a town council meeting over the internet in June. Since October, the tests have continued, with the opportunity to tweak technical issues. The official rollout, originally scheduled for December, has been postponed to the new year.

“Due to a recent technical issue we had, the current plan is to officially announce the livestream for the January 2024 Town Council meeting,” said Town Treasurer and Deputy Town Manager Heather Christmas. “It is the intent of the Town to broadcast all public council and committee meetings.”

Christmas said the town has invested about $50,000 total in technology upgrades to town hall so live meetings and replays can be viewed from anywhere, even on a smart phone.

Overall, the quality of the video is not bad, but the lack of carpeting or other soft surfaces in the council chambers to absorb sound makes the acoustics less than ideal, and there’s a noticeable echo.

But the meeting videos are a definite improvement over no meeting videos, especially for Shores residents who spend summers up north or traveling, but want to keep up with town business.