After a successful pilot this fall, the city will move forward with offering a remote video conferencing option for the citizen’s communication portion of Austin City Council meetings, Austin’s Chief Information Officer, Stephen Elkins, stated in a memo addressed to the mayor and city council.
Citizen’s communication is offered at each open regular public meeting of the Austin City Council. Local citizens who sign up for the public comment segment are allotted time to bring anything of their choosing to the attention of council, including topics not listed on the meeting agenda. Council members have the opportunity to hear issues directly from their constituents.
Earlier this year, the council wanted to make citizen’s communication more accessible, so it commissioned Austin's city manager to draw up a pilot program for remote video conferencing. The pilot program, offered at the District 6 remote office, ran for six meetings between Sept. 22-Nov. 10. During that time four citizens used the video conferencing option.
Although the pilot program needed tweaks in technology and aesthetic quality, city staff determined that the video conferencing option was successful and an expansion of the program to two libraries outside of Districts 6 and 9 is now under consideration. The locations being considered are:
- Carver Branch - District 1
- Ruiz Branch - District 3
- Little Walnut Creek Branch - District 4
- Manchaca Road Branch - District 5
- Yarborough Branch - District 7
- Hampton at Oak Hill Branch - District 8
No libraries in Districts 2 and 10 are included in the program due to their lack of video conferencing capability. The program is not offered in District 9 because that district includes the City Hall location. Remote video conferencing is already offered at the District 6 Council field office. That location is marked with the blue video camera icon at the top of the above map.
If the library expansion is successful, the city will look into implementing the option at all six of these library branches.