Webcasting proving to be a success

Lord Provost Donald Wilson, talks about the success of our webcasting pilot, ahead of tomorrow's Council meeting.

Last month at the launch of our one year webcasting pilot more than 600 people tuned in to watch councillors in Edinburgh make decisions that will affect the lives of those living all over the city.

These figures are really encouraging and speak for themselves. They demonstrate that if we make local politics more accessible people will engage with it.

A number of people watching the meeting also started conversations through social media which was really useful as it spread the word that we are now webcasting and enabled those wishing to comment on issues being discussed to do so.

It would be great if this could continue and if anyone wants to join in the conversation while meetings are being webcast please use #edinwebcast.

Given that my background is in information technology, I am very keen to use this to engage with our communities and encourage them to take a greater interest in how the Council works.

People live busy lives and generally don't have time to come along to Council meetings.  Webcasting works as it is convenient and people can tune in to items of interest at a time that suits them.

This project has received a lot of support from councillors as one of the Capital Coalition's pledges is to open up democracy and improve how we engage with residents. Web casting is a great tool to help us to do this and be more open and transparent, reflecting as it does modern ways of interaction and lifestyle.

The first meeting was so well received that we also are looking to develop the pilot by webcasting committee meetings. The first committee to be included in the pilot is the Petitions Committee on the 3 December. We are urging residents to use this new committee to influence Council decisions and I feel it is vital that we webcast this process.

You can make use of the Council's e-petition facility. Paper petition forms can also be downloaded from our website and are available from libraries and other Council buildings.  

More and more people access news and information via the internet and the pilot is already being improved to ensure that from December you can watch the meetings live and on the archive while you are on the move on mobile devices. This is really important as, according to a report published by Google recently, for the first time mobile usage has overtaken desktops in the UK .

This is backed up by our own statistics which show that over the last year the number of people visiting our website using a mobile device has risen by almost 300% and now represents almost 20% of our total visits.

Using wireless on the move is also set to improve in Edinburgh generally as the Council recently received confirmation of funding from the UK Government of £10.7m to improve this as well as bringing 90% of Edinburgh residents and businesses high speed broadband by 2015.

The next meeting you can watch is the Council meeting tomorrow. I am sure this will attract a lot of interest as a report will be discussed on the options for building a new Portobello High School following the recent court ruling. We will outline how we plan to proceed.

Elected members will also be updated on the tram project with work either ahead of schedule or in line with the revised timescale reported in June 2011. The report also contains positive news for local businesses and visitors to Shandwick Place and St Andrew Square with improved pedestrian access for shoppers to be available before Christmas.

The webcasting project is a genuine attempt to open up democracy in Edinburgh and your comments on how we are doing can be sent to webcasting@edinburgh.gov.uk. Remember you can also sign up to email alerts when the Council agenda is online.

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