IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.
Sponsor Content
What does this mean?

Hybrid Council Chambers: Preparing for the Future of Government Meetings


Shelter-in-place orders are lifting. Industries across the country are opening their doors to employees again.

Shelter-in-place orders are lifting. Industries across the country are opening their doors to employees again. After a year of scrambling to get our heads around home office, the most crucial phase of adaptation nevertheless lies ahead; as boardrooms embrace a future combining the benefits of in-person and remote work, local and special governments, too, must address the inevitable question: Where do we go from here?

Yet, between the environmental impact of travel, the lower costs of home office and the flexibility of virtual meetings, the debate is no longer “will hybrid capabilities be expected of council chambers in the future?” but “how can councils future-proof their infrastructure to facilitate this?” And for this highly specialized sector, finding a solution that offers effective ‘half remote, half on-site’ collaboration is not as easy.

Need for specialization in video conferencing

Whereas the mainstream video teleconferencing (VTC) tools that emerged during the pandemic are largely able to meet the needs of the corporate sector, it was never going to be enough for policymakers simply to see and hear each other remotely. Without the following features, councils looking for a lasting and reliable solution for hybrid meetings will be unable to re-create the conditions of a council chamber virtually:

  • Audio fallback

Without video in an online conference, the show can go on. Without sound, there’s no conference. Audio fallback prioritizes a device’s sound transmission when the speaker’s bandwidth is struggling, ensuring that participants can continue hearing each other. Ideally, this should be paired with echo cancellation and low latency features, allowing for the processing of high volumes of data with minimum lag. Find out more.

  • Integrated voting

Electronic voting applications are not hard to come by, but an integrated solution for parliamentary (Yes/No/Abstain) voting means one fewer service for IT directors to have to manage remotely. Crucially, the chosen system needs to include the ability to display named vote results as well, and depending on the motion, clerks may require the ability to assign voting weights or privileges before commencing proceedings. Find out more.

  • User roles

The only way to ensure a seamless hybrid council meeting is to assign user roles to participants, namely: operator, moderator, participant and the public. While meeting operators oversee the technicalities of the meeting from behind the scenes, clerks (in the moderator role) can control the request-to-speak list, allowing them to moderate communication between both internal and external participants. Find out more.

  • Camera and microphone control

Finding a reliable way to interact with citizens has posed the biggest challenge for virtual council meetings. Without microphone and camera control, just about anything can find its way onto the screen. With defined settings, the public can watch via a high-quality screencast or request to be added to the moderator’s queue to speak, from where their sound and image can be activated at the appropriate time. Find out more.

  • Enhanced data protection

As well as the importance of having local servers to host data, cybersecurity has been one of the many recent buzzwords of government video conferencing. Since threats in this area are constantly changing, IT directors need to ensure that the collaborative tools they are installing in council chambers have certifications such as SOC II attestation, whereby they can proactively recognize and counteract threats. Find out more.

  • Compliance and accessibility

In the same way that council chambers are required to carry assistive listening devices as outlined by the American Deafness Association (ADA), IT directors must consider how these tools translate to video conferencing. With a specialized platform, councils can include a closed captions option and a sign language interpreter streaming the conversation in real time for persons with a hearing impairment. Find out more.
What expectations should you anticipate from meeting participants?

  • More reliable audio on both hybrid ‘ends’
Moving forward, both the video teleconferencing (VTC) tool and the microphones that your organization employ need to promise superior sound quality for all participants. Media Vision offers a range of wired and wireless conferencing microphones for government, along with multimedia units, which you can ask our team about below.

  • Camera tracking in council chambers

Like better audio, the next generation of hybrid meetings will likely demand a more natural and engaging viewing experience for remote participants. A camera tracking feature uses motion or facial tracking to allow council members or citizens to follow the speaker in a way that most resembles the structure of an in-person meeting.

  • The provision of better home equipment

With the home office being a preferred working choice for many, organizations will naturally be expected to provide council members joining meetings remotely with something more sophisticated than a pair of personal-use headphones.

  • Greater scope to interact in the meeting

A consistent complaint about virtual council meetings from members of the public has been how difficult it is to have their voices heard. Often, citizens are instructed to ask their questions as Facebook comments, or post them in the busy mess of chat threads. A request-to-speak feature that streamlines this process is now a must.

The road to hybrid: returning to chambers

For councils on the cusp of going hybrid, finding the right solutions provider to support you isn’t easy. There are many questions you will have to consider at this stage.

That's where Media Vision steps in. In addition to our award-winning AV solutions for council chambers, our team has leveraged its 18 years of experience with the government sector by creating Virtual Council, an all-in-one meeting platform for policymakers. From audio you can rely on to the safe management of data and public participation, we can drive your organization toward a high-performing, hybrid future.

Watch a demo of Virtual Council or speak to our team to find out more.