By Moses Leos III
Kyle residents could soon find it easier to not only access municipal documents, but also view meetings as well.
At a cost of $10,700, the city is undergoing the transition to Granicus, a cloud-based system that allows municipal governments to store and access data for the purpose of presenting it to the public.
The move toward streamlining video and document access has been on the city’s radar for a few years, according to Kyle spokesperson Jerry Hendrix.
He said the city’s upgrade to Granicus also allows cities to pair documents with real-time streamed council and board meetings.
“We’ve been looking at implementing a more robust program for integrating our meetings, agendas, and minutes with our video streaming for a couple of years,” Hendrix wrote in an emailed response. “This year we are able to pull the trigger on it thanks to the improved economy and growth in our revenues.”
The city uses MuniAgenda to store and access documents. For several years, the city has used UStream to live stream council meetings online.
Both services, however, have limitations. While MuniAgenda is adequate for posting meetings and providing additional documentation, Hendrix said it cannot integrate with audio and visual elements.
“It does not integrate with video, audio and minutes, which is what we are wanting to provide to our citizens,” Hendrix wrote.
Ustream, which is a free web streaming service, has similar issues. Additionally, the service is limited to only three hours per meeting — some nights the council meetings go longer than that — and is subject to viewer advertisements.
The city began to implement the switch to Granicus, which comes with a $10,700 price tag. Monies for Granicus come from the Information Technology budget of the General Fund.
Recent developments include using the SpeakUp engagement portal, which has hosted the city’s StyleKyle website. Hendrix said remaining components would be implemented in May.
Kyle joins Buda in cities that migrated to Granicus in the past year. In September, Buda adopted the Granicus system.
According to Lysa Gonzalez, director of tourism in Buda, traffic on Granicus was “kind of slow” with regard to the number of views.
She said views have steadily increased since then. The city is also actively promoting its ability to stream meetings online. Gonzalez said the city tracks viewership and is working to increase numbers.
According to Gonzalez, citizen feedback is positive. She said many enjoy the ease of access. Citizens can follow the meetings live and at the same time, click to agenda items, which brings up the corresponding video and audio recording.
“People do enjoy that aspect,” Gonzalez said. “Even if they can’t make it to the meeting, they can be an active participant in a civic organization.”