People Speak and Open.Media Partner to Launch Hybrid Public Hearings Solution for Local Governments

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Local citizen engagement companies deliver a simple way to increase participation for remote and live public meetings.

People Speak has announced the launch of an Open.Media integration where cities can automatically stream public meetings from Open.Media into a rich and interactive meeting experience.

People Speak’s Public Hearing Engagement Platform has been in use since 2017 and extends the timeline of the public hearing to allow multiple days for review of information and collection of comments. The platform has met the requirements of open meeting laws in states coast to coast and in a 2019 study by the City of Lakewood showed over 100 times the participation by 25-34 year olds on the Public Hearing Engagement Platform as in-person while each age cohort was represented online in proportion to its actual level.

“The platform has been in use for years prior to COVID-19, but when lockdowns began in spring of 2020 there was a surge of interest – cities were able to quickly and easily transition to fully asynchronous and remote meetings, allowing all stakeholders to participate anytime, anywhere. Then we saw communities learn and adopt Zoom and we started getting requests to expand our platform to better serve constituents both pre-meeting and during the live meeting.” said Jason Sperling, Co-founder at People Speak.

Pre-COVID-19, People Speak’s software allowed citizens to access presentations and information before the meeting, issue-level participation via web and phone-in, and automation of digital staff reports and decision-maker managemen. Support for creation of minutes and voting and basic live streaming embedding was added in the summer for 2020, followed by a partnership with Open.Media.

“Open.Media has been helping local and state governments broadcast live meetings since 2013. Our platform is adept at serving in-person live streaming, from a simple off-the-shelf webcam to an expansive multi-camera television setup at the state legislature, to hybrid meetings where some participants are dialing in via Zoom or other webinar software. We were excited to add an integration with People Speak to introduce the first fully hybrid, in-person or remote, pre-meeting and live meeting, public hearing experience,” said Tony Shawcross, Executive Director at Open Media Foundation.

The Open.Media and People Speak integration introduces several new benefits for cities and continents.

  • Seamless integration: When the meeting starts, the live steam from Open.Media automatically displays on the People Speak meeting page.
  • Minutes faster and richer than ever before: Minutes are dynamically generated on People Speak, leveraging existing agendas and issues, one-click voting, with web and phone-in comments - and now with the Open.Media integration minutes automatically include video recordings cued up to the timestamped start of each issue.
  • Meetings of the future: Open.Media videoconferencing can be deployed on-site as well as combined with off-site webinar solutions such as Zoom to support hybrid live meetings.
  • Information at your fingertips: the live stream displays in the left panel to enable continuous play as users explore content on the meeting page. You can watch and listen to the live stream while navigating to different issues and materials.

The City of Lakewood, Colorado, was recognized in 2019 with a National Achievement Award from the American Planning Association for Online Public Hearings, and has been a driving force for the integration. “We’ve been working with both People Speak and Open.Media independently for the last several years. When we were forced to abandon live public meetings, it was clear we needed a solution that would work to solve the immediate challenges the city faces, but also something that would be sustainable and appropriate for the long term. This offer has transformed our ability to serve the public,” said Travis Parker, Director of Planning, City of Lakewood. Cities interested in seeing the integration are encouraged to visit https://lakewoodspeaks.org/ during and prior to a live meeting.

Cities of every size can benefit from the new integration. “We started looking at People Speak as a way to better engage and inform the public ahead of public hearings, but we’re a small city with constrained resources so we were uncertain if we could bring meaningful opportunities for citizens,” said Matthew Rohrbach, AICP, City Planner, of the City of Hamilton, Montana. “People Speak and Open.Media helped us get set up with a strategy and equipment scaled for our budget and staff. We needed something that could flex as the times dictate to give people the opportunity to engage on their time and remotely. The solution is configured to handle in-person, remote, or hybrid meetings – we were able to get up and running with very minimal installation or training.”    

Cities around the country use the online software developed People Speak (for more information, visit http://peoplespeak.net/) and Open.Media (for more information, visit https://www.open.media/).

About People Speak
People Speak was founded in Boulder, Colorado, in 2017 with a mission of increasing the participation and representation at public hearings. Created in partnership with local governments, People Speak transforms public meetings, delivering staff and applicant presentations, information, and issue-level participation for meetings in an online experience, accessed anytime, anywhere. People Speak recently expanded to support hybrid in-person and remote live meetings, to cities and counties be even more inclusive and give citizens an easy way to interact with what’s relevant to them. For more information on People Speak, visit https://peoplespeak.net/.

About Open.Media
Based in Denver, CO, Open.Media (https://www.open.media) is the open-source, nonprofit alternative to expensive for-profit government meeting streaming & archiving technology. Its innovative design allows you to combine any camera and encoder with free streaming services like YouTube, giving you access to the industry's latest improvements in video streaming technology, including automated transcription, clickable agenda jump-points, and associated documents. For more information on Open Media, visit http://open.media and http://www.openmediafoundation.org.

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Jason Sperling
People Speak
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