City of Buffalo
"I think (broadcasting and streaming meetings) is incredibly important... I
think it just makes the decision making process more legitimate in the eyes of our citizens. It's just good government, period."
(City Administrator of the City of Buffalo)
Buffalo, MN—For Merton Auger, the city administrator for the City of Buffalo, making the city’s meetings and content easily accessible to the public is “just good government.” As with many communities, residents can always see the city’s content by simply flipping to the city’s designated channel on TV; however, Auger and the City of Buffalo have taken it a step further, live streaming the channel online and posting videos on-demand on the city’s PEG Central® page.
"We see a great value to stream online media and also to broadcast," Auger said. "We stream our channel live so if you were to watch Channel 12 and then went on your computer you would see the same program. We also put everything on PEG Central and we store it in folders based on types of programming."
To accomplish live streaming, video-on-demand (VOD) streaming, and broadcast automation, the City of Buffalo turned to LEIGHTRONIX. The City of Buffalo acquired an UltraNEXUS™ video server, PEGstream-SD2™ live streaming encoder, and the PEG Stream™ live streaming and PEG Central VOD services.
"When we compared LEIGHTRONIX products to other products, this is user friendly and priced very competitively. In other words, you don't have to go broke buying this stuff," Auger said. "Also, the technology keeps changing and that's a good thing, to keep up with what's out there."
In addition to being the city administrator, Auger is also the treasurer for the area's cable commission SWC4, which is comprised of 10 communities. Each of the surrounding communities utilizes the same system as Buffalo to stream content on their own PEG Central and PEG Stream sites to broadcast their individual channels. The commission also has a system wide channel that is completely separate from the local community channels.
The City of Buffalo uses their channel to broadcast various programming, including government meetings, announcements, parades, public health awareness programming, municipal news, and community notices. They also utilize a mobile station that belongs to SWC4 which all 10 communities have access to.
"We have a trailer that is part of the commission and we duplicate all the equipment that we have on this production trailer," Auger said. "We also have all the buildings in the commission hard wired so for city hall shoots or locations we shoot at all the time, like the civic center, we have the building hardwired, park the trailer, and then shoot it back through the hardwire. This isn't true for all 10 communities but for the City of Buffalo we have high speed fiber optics that we use to send the video down to the servers."
Broadcast to Stream
Everything that the UltraNEXUS broadcasts also gets live streamed and sent to the PEG Central VOD site. As content comes into the UltraNEXUS, the server makes two copies of the program, one which is broadcast quality and another smaller file optimized for Internet (VOD) streaming. The broadcast content is then scheduled and the channel output is then fed out of the UltraNEXUS to a splitter which sends one copy to the PEGstream-SD2 to be encoded for live streaming and delivered over the Internet and the other identical copy to the cable provider for broadcast. The result is a broadcast channel on the cable system as well as on the Internet and an archive of content on the PEG Central VOD site.
Auger said having the content available on TV and the Internet is extremely valuable, especially when it comes to government meetings.
"I think (broadcasting and streaming meetings) is incredibly important," Auger said of his system. "What it does, when you open up like that, people see you as more legitimate. In this day and age when you have things you have to do like replace sewer pipes, they want to know why you're doing that, and why you're spending that money. This way just seems to be so much more transparent than the old days, people have no question about why we're doing something. I think it just makes the decision making process more legitimate in the eyes of our citizens. It's just good government, period."
Auger added that while people could simply come to the meetings, it is unrealistic to expect a community member to be able to attend every meeting. The broadcast and live stream of the meetings act as a way to make sure citizens who aren't able to attend are informed. Buffalo even allows and encourages participation from those viewing from home.
“It gets cold in Minnesota and we want people to know what’s covered in the meeting so we put it out live so they don’t have to come down here,” Auger said. “The other thing we’re doing is the council members have computers or laptops so that if someone has a question or there is some point of view they want to express they can email a council member or myself and I can relate that to the council.”
For those who can’t attend the meetings or watch them live, Auger repeats the content in the schedule frequently. Repeating content in the schedule allows Buffalo citizens to catch it on the broadcast and live stream multiple times a day.
“We schedule the meetings a couple times a day, once during the day and once at night because we have a lot of people that commute back and forth between Buffalo and the Twin City area, so we like to be available on their time,” Auger said. “Plus, it’s super cool that you can be anywhere in the world and watch this content. We’ve had service people say to us that they really enjoy being able to be on the other side of the planet and being able to relate to the content that we are putting on our channel and our website. We do have schedules and we know there are people watching us during all times of the day, so we do repeat some of the content."
The convenience of the LEIGHTRONIX solutions extends to both the staff of the City of Buffalo and to the Channel 12 viewers. The automation of the UltraNEXUS allows Auger to provide content to his viewers around the clock without having staff in the office 24/7.
“That’s the nice thing about LEIGHTRONIX, you can do programming and you don’t have to be there. You just schedule it and away you go,” Auger said.
While his viewers don’t see that particular benefit directly, they do reap the benefits of the system. Viewers are able to watch live on TV or their computer and recall old programming whenever they want on the city’s PEG Central site.
“People love it. There are some communities in Wright County that would never think of doing this because they don’t want to be on TV because they don’t want people to know what they’re doing or whatever. We think it’s good government to do this. When we have a budget meeting we typically have zero people there, the reason for that is they know they can sit at home and be comfortable and watch it and be informed.”
The City of Buffalo operates Channel 12, the city's government channel, but they also wanted to provide content to their viewers live and on-demand on the Internet.
How It Works
Buffalo utilizes the UltraNEXUS to create broadcast files as well as files optimized for VOD streaming. The UltraNEXUS is also used to automate and display the city's programming. The PEGstream-SD2 receives the feed from the UltraNEXUS and live streams it on the Internet.
In Their Words
"When we compared LEIGHTRONIX products to other products, this is user friendly and priced very competitively. In other words, you don't have to go broke buying this stuff."
"I think (broadcasting and streaming meetings) is incredibly important... I think it just makes the decision making process more legitimate in the eyes of our citizens. It's just good government, period."
At a Glance
- Name: City of Buffalo
- Location: Buffalo, MN
- Midpoint: Buffalo is located between the twin cities, Minneapolis and St. Cloud
- Two Lakes: Buffalo Lake and Lake Pulaski boarder the
City of Buffalo
- Settlement: originally settled in 1855
- Native American Inhabitants: used to be home to the Dakota tribe
- Namesake: the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Lake do not get their name from the large mammal, rather from the buffalo fish which are abundant in the lake