City of New Bern
"We looked at a bunch of technologies and talked to people around us and people just kept pointing back to LEIGHTRONIX as the prime source for doing exactly what we wanted."
–Mark Trail (IT Manager)
New Bern, NC—In 2010, the City of New Bern elected an almost entirely new governing board that wanted to see increased access for its citizens as well as an increase in accountability for its government. The solution for the City was to broadcast their meetings live to the public over cable and the Internet, and provide streaming video-on-demand for those who were unable to watch the meetings live. According to Mark Trail, the IT manager for the City, this three-pronged approach was chosen to ensure easy access for all 33,000 of the city's residents.
New Bern looked to LEIGHTRONIX for the resources their citizens needed. Currently the City broadcasts a government channel with their UltraNEXUS™. The City also utilizes the PEGstream-SD™ and PEG Stream™ service for live streaming and the PEG Central® service to stream videos on demand.
"We wanted to become more transparent and have more information available to the public. People don't have to come to a meeting, now they can watch it live and see what decisions are being made," Trail said.
Since 2011 when New Bern first began broadcasting and streaming, the City has become more transparent and its citizens have seen the decision making process more clearly. For Trail, this change has been mutually beneficial for the city's government and its citizens. Trail said the citizens have become much more understanding of the decisions being made and as a result more accepting.
"The citizens before were in the dark about what we were doing before we had LEIGHTRONIX," Trail said. "Now we get a lot of citizens that call in and say 'I understand what you're doing and why you're doing it,' rather than 'Why did they spend this money on that?' Now they can see because the information is out there for them."
Six to eight meetings a month, however, is not enough to fill an entire channel's schedule, so New Bern runs additional PEG programming they receive, and utilizes the Virtual Channel and the TOTAL INFO® service from LEIGTHRONIX to make sure they are constantly broadcasting up-to-date content.
With the Virtual Channel, New Bern can run slides between programming to keep the public informed and prevent holes in their schedule. The City can also add TOTAL INFO to their Virtual Channel to add dynamic content like news, weather, sports, and fun facts.
"We use [the Virtual Channel] to fill in the holes and gaps between the videos so there is constantly something being broadcast," Trail said. "We rotate it around a little and change it up to give it a different view and variety."
Easy access for its citizens was so important to New Bern that in addition to running their programming on the UltraNEXUS, the City also streams the channel live on the Internet.
"Anything that's broadcast goes to the live stream as well, so basically anyone that can't get to it on the cable channel, can go to the Internet and watch it," Trail said, adding that the benefit is not just for the city's general public. "A lot of our department heads, if they're at a conference or out of town, can log on to the website as well and see what's going on in the meetings."
Trail also pointed out that adding live streaming to his City's workflow was easy and created almost no additional work for his office.
"The ease of use is incredible. Once we embedded the stream into our actual website, we haven't had to touch it since."
New Bern also recognized that sometimes the medium isn't as much of an issue for viewers as the time. To ensure all citizens had access to the meetings, including those who missed the broadcast because they were busy at the time, New Bern wanted to archive the meetings online using PEG Central, the video-on-demand solution from LEIGHTRONIX.
Adding PEG Central created a third avenue for citizens of New Bern to get the information they want, something Trail said was very important to his city.
"It was pretty evident that we needed to go all three directions (broadcast, live stream, and video-on-demand) to ensure that the information was getting out there one way or another and the public was going to get what we needed to send them," Trail said.
The advantages of PEG Central became clear immediately and the City started utilizing it to share more than just city meetings. Now the City's PEG Central site features safety videos, announcements, community videos that highlight area events, and The New Bernian, an online series that highlights the historical charm of the town.
"Originally the goal was to have a place where people could go back and look at any of the older meetings and archive them for future use, but since we started using it, it has expanded far beyond that," Trail said.
The town also has plans for further expansion of both the PEG Central and PEG Stream services. Sitting on the eastern coast of North Carolina, New Bern is no stranger to hurricanes. The City has started to integrate PEG Stream and PEG Central into their emergency messaging system. New Bern has only touched on using their LEIGHTRONIX products and services during hurricanes, but is hoping to expand their use during future emergencies. In the future, New Bern plans to utilize their LEIGHTRONIX broadcasting solutions similar to another customer of the company, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, who uses the same three LEIGHTRONIX products to communicate evacuation plans and emergency information.
New Bern has added a slightly different utilization of LEIGHTRONIX products, using them to provide valuable information to its citizens after a hurricane has passed. New Bern posts videos informing citizens about what cleanup is being done around the city, what streets are temporarily blocked, and how to take care of debris left by the storm. Trail says posting and broadcasting the videos has been a big asset for his city post-hurricane.
"It really helps curve a lot of the questions," Trail said. "We're reaching more citizens with the information they need, taking direct input from the citizens and implementing the changes they want to see, and more people can see the government at work. We've definitely enhanced our capabilities of getting this information to the citizens with LEIGHTRONIX."
The City of New Bern did not have a broadcast or Internet presence and with a new governing body that wanted to focus on transparency, New Bern wanted to provide easier access for its citizens.
How It Works
The UltraNEXUS allows the City to broadcast their monthly meetings on the City's cable channel, while the PEGstream-SD and PEG Stream service allows them to push the content live over the Internet. The PEG Central service gives the City the ability to post video-on-demand content online.
In Their Words
"We're reaching more citizens with the info they need... We've definitely enhanced our capabilities of getting information to the citizens."
IT Manager, City of New Bern
"Now we get a lot of citizens that call in and say 'I understand what you're doing and why you're doing it,' rather than 'Why did they spend this money on that?' Now they can see because the information is out there for them."
IT Manager, City of New Bern
At a Glance
- Name: City of New Bern
- Origins: New Bern was named after Bern, the capital of Switzerland
- Tri-Centennial: At 302 years old, New Bern is the second oldest city in North Carolina and was the state's original capital following the Revolutionary War.
- Civil War: The Battle of New Bern took place on March 14, 1862 during the American Civil War. New Bern was seen as a significant military target, as the railroad that connected the coast to the country's interior passed through the City. The Union won the battle and occupied New Bern for the remainder of the war.
- Famous Residents:
- Montario Hardesty–running back for the Cleveland Browns (2nd round draft pick in 2010)
- Nicholas Sparks–author of 16 novels, seven of which have been adapted into films including The Notebook and A Walk to Remember
- Walt Bellamy–Hall of Fame basketball player
- Elwood Edwards– voice of AOL's "you've got mail!"
- Samuel J Battle–first African-American policeman in New York City
- Bob Mann–first African-American to play for the Detroit Lions–later earned the same distinction for the Green Bay Packers
- Richard Dobbs Spaight– signed the Declaration of Independence
- Caleb Bradham–inventor of Pepsi-Cola