Williams Lake city council approves wireless and network upgrades: item spawns wider conversation about public engagement

Wireless and network upgrades at city hall by O'Netrix Solutions have been approved for a total of $8,158 by city council.

Wireless and network upgrades at city hall by O’Netrix Solutions have been approved for a total of $8,158 by city council.

The upgrades are in addition to services already installed and configured at the firehall, said chief administrative officer Milo MacDonald during Tuesday’s regular council meeting.

“This is the foundation that’s required to put a phone system in city hall, Cariboo Memorial Complex and city works so they are all compatible,” MacDonald said.

Some of the city’s technology is dated, Coun. Bonnell said.

“In the last five years we have been looking to upgrade and part of that is the council chambers themselves,” Bonnell said. “We need to get some upgrades to make it more efficient.”

Staff are presently investigating what upgrades are needed and the costs involved and will have a report to council in the near future, MacDonald said.

“The intention of that is to support the transparent and open budget process council adopted as a resolution.”

Bonnell asked how the technology the ability of the public to interact with council.

“Nowadays it is bandwidth that you need,” said Coun. Craig Smith. “If you have an iPhone you can live stream anything. We are not talking about equipment anymore, other than the actual physical internet portal. What we are talking about is a person — the manpower to be able to do it.”

It is a question council needs to ask, whether it wants to start live streaming everything? Smith added.

“At the Nation2Nation forum last week, there was one girl there live streaming constantly. Participants were texting her questions and it was online in real time,” Smith said.

Bonnell agreed saying he envisions sitting in the chambers at a meeting and views from the public could be coming up on his computer screen.

“It’s great,” he said.

Coun. Laurie Walters said it would also allow councillors who are out of town to log into a meeting, rather than only on the phone as they do now.

Technology has changed so much in 10 years, Coun. Scott Nelson added.

“In the long-term, that opportunity to allow council to be interactive with the community is a positive one,” Nelson said. “If there’s an issue of hot debate, such as the budget, Atlantic Power or the lake, or a conduct of a member of council, it would give the community chance to have input.”

 

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