Wednesday, January 13, 2016

City of Dunwoody Meetings and How to Participate

Last night, Dunwoody held a meeting to discuss an updated plan for our city's parks and the outreach that would go along with that.

It was at exactly the same time as the Planning Commission meeting at City Hall where several zoning variance requests were discussed, including those involving a proposed townhome development in Dunwoody Village.

Next week is the first Town Hall of this administration.  Topics for discussion are being accepted at

These meetings have some traits in common:

1)  They are all held in the early evening during prime commuting or family care hours.
2)  There is no live broadcast of the meetings so those unable to attend cannot observe and be informed.**
3)   There is no mechanism for remote feedback from the community outside the meeting room.

**City Council meetings and other meetings held in council chambers are streamed online via the city's SIRE system which organizes official calendars, agendas, and minutes.  However, SIRE's video encoding permits the live feed to be viewed only on Internet Explorer, on a standard laptop or desktop.  It is not possible to view it on any other browser, including the new MS Edge.  They also cannot be viewed on any tablet or smartphone.  The technology is so limited it is almost obsolete in 2015.

Meetings or other informal gatherings (eg, Coffee with a Cop) in the afternoons or evenings are an essential part of soliciting feedback from the public.  But as I have posed elsewhere in DWG, meetings at this particular time frame self-selects for only that part of Dunwoody citizens that are not caring for families at home.  Their time is their own.

Those of us who are meeting buses, running carpools, shuttling kids to activities and doctors' appointments, preparing dinner, managing homes, helping with homework and projects, getting younger children bathed and in bed, as well as working our tails off to earn and provide are not able to share their input in the context of the event because they cannot be in THAT place at THAT time.

I have made requests to city hall to make meetings and live feedback available via social media and streaming video.  Others have done the same via Facebook.  I haven't the foggiest idea whether that will happen or not.

In the mean time, SDOC has a solution.

I would like to contribute SDOC's infrastructure and social media assets to the cause of making public meetings available online to families unable to attend. 

This effort will require some collaboration and logistic testing to determine the best method to stream events.  There are options for streaming video via website and social media, as well as live chat for feedback.

If any Dunwoody citizen is interested in collaborating on this effort, please contact me at  

Let's make Dunwoody's official events accessible to more of Dunwoody's citizens!


Unknown said...

I think that's a fantastic idea! Let me know how I can help.

Max said...

Communication is key, let me know if I can help, as well.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Thanks everyone who responded both in comments and via email.

I posted this in a comment on John's blog and I'm reposting here:

Hard core details later but for tomorrow night - there are free options for live streaming quickly if you have a cell phone:

Meerkat - A free app that will allow video to be streamed and embedded anywhere.

Periscope - Ditto but this is owned by Twitter.

Unlike UStream, these are free for the download. I'm thinking of working out a stream with my company's YouTube channel and assorted volunteer managers but that will take a while, if it's feasible at all.

If someone is going to stream tomorrow's meeting - or any public meeting, please contact me via the blog or website and I will set up a dedicated video page on a responsive website to help get it to where people are.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Meerkat can be embedded in a central site natively; Periscope requires some magic but can work if the URL of the stream is available.
I haven't tested others yet but it's in the works.

Here's an example of a Meerkat stream on a website:

Max said...

Periscope, Meerkat, oh my! I don't know 1/10 what you you said, but when I clicked on the video John took, it worked.

That's is a lot better than trying to go to the City website.

This issue should be a priority - An informed citizenry is a content lot. There are also Public Service Announcement, emergencies, water outages, bears, who knows what that could be broadcast using this type of technology.

It is all about channels, the more channels, the more people see.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

It was good to get at least a first-run w/ John's Periscope last night.

Communications and the IT systems that foster them in the 21st century do need to be prioritized. But does the new administration want to invest in the education to learn these tools? Do they want to hear from and take seriously the citizenry that cannot make the meetings for whatever reason? (It's not just age-based.) I don't know the answer to that question.

Ideally, if City Hall isn't going to take the initiative, there would be a network of citizens who can take turns w/ their cell phones/tablets who could stream media into one central location where live feedback could take place if wanted, and where the video can be archived. That's why I volunteered my own resources to centralize it - because most people don't know how to set it up and maintain it or compare different solutions. And they shouldn't have to. They should just be able to go to that one central place when there's a meeting, click, and watch. Or review archived video.

Step one was a success. Time to reevaluate and take Step Two.
(After I call 911 for the stray cat in my yard and the children playing down the block.)

Hysteria Miller said...

I love this idea. I use periscope and have seen meerkat. I usually can't make meetings because I work downtown and don't get back to Dunwoody until near 7 so it would be great to have something that can be viewed later.