After months of discussion, Overland Park begins live-streaming city council meetings

First-term councilmember Logan Heley made streaming video of Overland Park meetings one of this issues in his campaign last year.

By Roxie Hammill

The company that handles Overland Park’s agenda system, Swagit Productions LLC, will also be in charge of recording and storing meeting video files at an estimated one-time $50,000 cost to the city this year.

The Overland Park City Council voted unanimously Monday to forego the bidding process and negotiate a contract with Swagit to manage the video that will be saved from council, planning commission and council committee meetings. Swagit is a Dallas company specializing in video broadcast of government meetings. The company currently partners with Novus Solutions, which handles the city’s agenda system.

The unanimous vote was taken at the first meeting to be live streamed on the city’s web site. Video from that meeting is also available on the city’s YouTube channel.

“This all started in talking about it last December and it’s time we’re finally up on line,” said Mayor Carl Gerlach.

Modernizing the city’s digital meeting records has been near the top of the council’s to-do list since last December, when council member Logan Heley began streaming Overland Park meetings on Facebook with the help of some high school students. Heley and council member Paul Lyons then pushed for a system upgrade using the city’s resources to allow people to access meetings online.

Up to that point, the city’s meetings were available on audio CDs for a small fee to the city clerk’s office.

Streaming the meetings through Facebook was free, but problematic because the city must meet state and federal requirements for open records and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The production service will manage the meetings remotely, without the involvement of city staff. Swagit can handle production issues like zooming in on speakers or presentations, live streaming, closed captioning and cloud storage, according to a city staff report. The service also can index the video so clicking on an agenda item will start the video at that part of the meeting.

The contract would cover about 100 meetings a year that are held in the council chambers and conference room at City Hall. The $50,000 is for implementation of the service, with fees after that estimated at $8,000 to $10,000 a year.

Money spent this year to get the system rolling would come from city contingency fund, but ongoing fees would be built into future city budgets.

Overland Park is the latest city to live stream meetings, as the technology has become cheaper. Last summer Prairie Village decided to spend $3,500 for a one-year subscription to a service that will stream the city council, council committee of the whole and planning commission meetings. That system includes only basic streaming and storage online, and does not include the advanced production features Overland Park will be using.

You can see the first live-streamed video below: