3 Responses to “Follow up on criteria and feedback on streaming solutions for CTTAB meetings”

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  1. Phil Mocek says:

    Any technology used to provide remote public access to public meetings should be based on open standards to the degree that such is available and reliable. While proprietary server-side software may be appropriate where budget allows, the public should not be required to run proprietary software client-side in order to view City-provided video or audio streams. Thus, any streaming system that requires the use of client programs that that run exclusively on closed-source operating systems such as Mac OS or Windows would be inappropriate for this use. Similarly, any software which requires proprietary Web browser plugins for viewing, such as Flash or Silverlight, is also inappropriate. Choice of codecs should favor those that are not patent-encumbered (e.g., Ogg/Theora, VP8, etc.)

    The goal, here, should be to provide maximum public access, not to boost the sales of software companies. Civic engagement should not hinge on people’s willingness to use software whose internal workings we are barred from examining, sharing, and improving. Viewers of video streams of City of Seattle meetings should be able to watch in standard, free, cross-platform client software such as VLC, or in-browser with HTML5 video.

    My Web searches for technical specifications of streaming capabilities of Microsoft Office 365 (I assume that is what was meant by “o365”) did not turn up relevant information.

  2. Ben Krokower says:

    Hi Phil,

    These points are all well taken, and I happen to agree with them personally, as well. As you say, if the goal is to provide maximum public access, then there shouldn’t be an immediate barrier of entry of installing a plug-in or downloading a client prior to engaging in a public meeting.

    I’ve seen the federal government has used Google Hangouts extensively, which has no technical barrier of entry (no plug-ins and is OS-agnostic) but obviously requires everyone to have Google Accounts, which brings along a whole other set of concerns.

    When CTTAB has received updates from DoIT on the live-streaming capabilities, we’ve been told that O365 has some built in capabilities. My assumption has always been that this means they would be using Lync internally for video meetings, and that it might be able to be adapted for external use as well. Obviously, this is not ideal. We will keep having this discussion, and try to understand where things are headed

    Thank you,
    Ben Krokower
    Chair, CTTAB

  3. Phil Mocek says:

    I don’t find a requirement that remote participants install a browser plugin or download and install client software to be unacceptable. That is likely a requirement, and depends entirely on the existing capabilities of his or her computing device. I do find it unacceptable to require them to use proprietary technology when free (most significantly, free as in free speech) alternatives are available. We should not require people who wish to participate, even as observers, to do business with third parties or to run software compiled from source code they are barred from examining, improving, and sharing, in order to participate.

    I completely agree about the problematic nature of using Google’s proprietary videoconferencing system for participation in public process. Nobody should be required to check in and get permission from (i.e., to register or create an account with) Google, the U.S. government, or even with City of Seattle, in order to observe a public meeting.

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