The village board adopted a resolution at its Oct. 24 meeting to implement new software that it says will increase the transparency and efficiency of local government.
“This proposal and implementation of this system will take Forest Park to the next level in transparency, staff efficiency and overall professionalism,” said Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone in a letter to the council.
The resolution, voted in unanimously, approved the purchase of the new software from Granicus, Inc., a San Francisco company that specializes in internet-streaming solutions for government entities. Granicus has over 900 clients nationwide, including the U.S. Congress and the City of Chicago, according to a proposal it submitted to the village.
The system will allow Forest Park citizens to stream live village council meetings to their homes, or download them in either audio or video format. Users will be able to search archived village council videos via an improved search engine and peruse documents related to topics addressed at board meetings.
“If there’s a topic you have an interest in, you can punch that in and it will give you actual clips,” Commissioner Chris Harris said. “The new system will be a bit more interactive. You’ll be able to find things easier. “
“With this new system you can pick which portions of the video you may be interested in watching, so it’s much more streamlined,” said Calderone, speaking to the Forest Park Review.
According to the Granicus website, it will take 60-90 days for the new system to be implemented.
In line with the council’s previous move to do away with paper agendas and acquire iPads, Calderone asserted that the new system will allow council meetings to run almost entirely paperless.
In addition, the software will make it easier for council members to build agendas, link documents, take notes and correspond with other council members.
“It will improve lines of communication,” Commissioner Rory Haskins said.
Implementing the new system will cost around $6,925, initially, and $690 per month for ongoing support. At year three and beyond, the city will pay around $8,210 annually.
Calderone and the village council are also considering reducing other board meeting expenditures, such as post-video production, to further offset the cost. Video conversion and editing costs will be eliminated, at a savings of around $400 a month.
“Once we have the system up and running, it’s our estimation that this will end up becoming revenue neutral,” Calderone said. “When we take the monthly cost of it, it’s going to be offset by some services that we won’t need with the system in place.”
“It should be a wash [from] the system we have now,” Harris said. “If not, we might have to pay a little bit more, but for higher efficiency.”
The mayor hopes the new system will improve not only transparency, but the internal efficiencies of city government.
“We’re going to be very proud to add our name to that list of progressive governments that want to make their info more readily accessible to the public,” Calderone said.
Nick Moroni contributed to this article