The City of Albany
The City of
"It’s been great and it’s really easy to use. The software’s really easy to wade through and does whatever you want.”
–Michael Cox(Senior Desktop Support Technician)
Albany, OR — When Michael Cox, Senior Desktop Support Technician, first started working at the city of Albany nine years ago, city council meetings were recorded on a dual-cassette tape player with limited release. Now, with the support of LEIGHTRONIX and the UltraNEXUS, the city is playing a larger role in the lives of its citizens, allowing further transparency in local government while also providing a space for individual members to reach out to their community.
With the UltraNEXUS™, the city of Albany is able to post city council meetings onto their own public access station, Channel 28 (coaTV). In addition to local government meetings, the city now has greater control over what kind of content can be posted on the channel, opening the door to further community engagement and participation.
One of the most exciting aspects of the city having expanded its video capabilities has been the community's response. Members of the community have more freedom than ever to submit their own content to be aired on coaTV. As long as it fulfills the prerequisites for the public access channel, additional videos merely need to be dropped into the UltraNEXUS scheduling software to play on coaTV. According to Cox, there's even a community member collecting videos from other people in the city to enrich the already burgeoning collection of content.
Cox, like many others in the community, is excited for the future of coaTV: "It's kind of like having a campfire and you're sitting there by yourself. When you have a campfire and you get a bunch of people show up and you start roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, that's more of a fun event. You get more out of the experience."
From Disk to Digital
As great as things are now, the city of Albany didn't always broadcast to the same degree and the process was not as simple. Since 2007, the city of Albany has been broadcasting their city council meetings onto coaTV. With the help of nearby Linn-Benton Community College, meetings were loaded onto the college's UltraNEXUS server and broadcast to the public access station. However, in 2013, the city bumped things up a notch by purchasing LBCC's UltraNEXUS, allowing city council meetings to be seen live.
When Cox first began broadcasting meetings, there were a lot of steps to take. Sure, LBCC was using their UltraNEXUS to easily store content for broadcast on their public station, but Cox wasn't at LBCC, he was nearly ten minutes away in City Hall. This created a bit of a pickle, since the city of Albany didn't have an easy way to store and stream video content. Cox would have to save meetings on a DVR, burn them onto a DVD and drive the disc over to where the UltraNEXUS was located. Meetings would happen on a Wednesday, but wouldn't air until Sunday night, which, according to Cox, is just too much time."
Then, in 2013, everything changed. LBCC had chosen to focus more on their web-based video content and decided they no longer wanted control of the public access channel. Without anyone from Albany managing it, the channel itself would most likely be handed over to the state of Oregon. Due to an agreement with the local cable provider, the city of Albany technically owned the channel, which put the city in a unique position.
The LBCC's UltraNEXUS had been actively used since 2007. This fact allowed the city to purchase it secondhand for a very reasonable price; an ideal scenario for an already meager budget. Cox uses a TriCaster from NewTek to link several video cameras in the council chambers together on the same computer. From there, he stores the content on the UltraNEXUS and prepares it for broadcast on coaTV.
In addition to the public broadcasting channel, having complete control of the UltraNEXUS has allowed Cox to stream live city council meetings online and post them to the city of Albany's webpage, a level of connectivity that had not yet been reached before the UltraNEXUS was installed on site.
Though Cox certainly has a handle on his system now, that wasn't necessarily the case when he first acquired the UltraNEXUS: "When we got it, I knew nothing about this, so I got on the phone with your support guys and they walked me through the software and how it works and how you program the thing." Though his product is secondhand, he still receives the same free technical support that any LEIGHTRONIX UltraNEXUS customer gets.
According to Cox, dealing with LEIGHTRONIX technical support was easy. His UltraNEXUS has withstood the test of time, but there was a minor overheating incident caused by a worn out fan. Cox gave LEIGHTRONIX a call and even though it was no longer under warranty, for the cost of parts, technical support immediately sent over the required items needed to make the repair. The UltraNEXUS went back online after only a brief break in service — "It's just nice to deal with a company that doesn't treat you as an irritation when you call in with a problem."
Though the UltraNEXUS at the city of Albany has been hard at work for quite a number of years and passed multiple hands, it's been built to last; the aforementioned problem above is the only technical issue the product has suffered in almost nine years of use. Regardless, LEIGHTRONIX technical support is ready to help with any issues that may arise.
The city of Albany needed an easier and more effective way to post city council meetings on their public access channel without spending too much money.
How It Works
A second-hand UltraNEXUS transmits recordings to a public access channel, while prepping video data for live streaming on the city of Albany’s website. The UltraNEXUS was acquired at minimal cost from a local community college and even though it’s used, LEIGHTRONIX still supports it with technical support and free firmware updates as promised with the original purchase.
In Their Words
“It takes very little of my time because it is so intuitive and it’s very easy to go in and do what you need to do; push the scheduling up to the NEXUS and then get off of it and walk away and it just does its thing.”
Senior Desktop Support Technician, City of Albany
“Yeah, it’s a really good product. I’m really happy with it. I’m really impressed with how you guys deal with things. It’s been a joy because I hate headaches. If you’ve ever dealt with computer manufacturers whose product is substandard, you know what I mean.”
Senior Desktop Support Technician, the City of Albany
At a Glance
- Name: The City of Albany
- Location: Albany, Oregon
- Products Owned: UltraNEXUS
- Rare Metals: With industry leaders producing hafnium, titanium, and zirconium, Albany is often referred to as the “rare metals capitol of the world.”
- Local Government Transparency: The city of Albany’s website and dashboard is regularly recognized for its transparency with citizens. GCN, a publication that covers public sector technology uses, rated the city’s site as one of the best websites from the public sector for this reason.