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Westchester Legislators' Meetings to be Broadcast Live Online

July 9, 2007
August 27, 2007 by Glen Blain
The Journal News

WHITE PLAINS - Westchester legislators are anxious to join the Internet video craze and are willing to spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to do so.

The Board of Legislators is about to sign a $49,810 contract with a Long Island-based technology firm that will, among other things, help lawmakers establish live webcasts of their meetings and produce other online videos of legislators in action.

"It makes the process even more open, even more accessible," said board Chairman William Ryan, D-White Plains, explaining the webcasts. "It gives the public another tool to use in evaluating how engaged their legislators are in the process."

Ryan said the board has already purchased about $18,000 in cameras and editing equipment for the webcasts. The contract with the Long Island firm, IQM2 LLC, was approved Thursday by the county's Board of Acquisition and Contract.

Currently, broadcasts of the Board of Legislators' meetings are available only on public-access cable channels. Tapes of the broadcasts are also distributed to local libraries.

Ryan hopes to begin live webcasts of the Board of Legislators' sessions in January. They would also be archived and available for viewing at a later date on the board's Web site.

Additionally, Ryan envisions online videos of other legislature activities, including public hearings, committee meetings and fact-finding tours taken by lawmakers.

The Board of Legislators' minority leader, George Oros, R-Cortlandt, said he was unaware of Ryan's plans but supported the idea of airing the board's meetings on the Internet.

"There's a whole generation of people out there who do a lot of things on the Internet and get a lot of their information from it," Oros said. "I think it's a good idea."

In addition to the developing the webcasts, IQM2 will also help the board develop an electronic calendar and information tracking system that should drastically reduce the amount of paper used each year, Ryan said.

"We want to get away from the tremendous amount of paper that we use today," Ryan said. "We use tons of paper."

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