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eGovernment Forschung | eGovernment Research 2001 - 2017

For the last several years, people have been able to listen live over the internet whenever the Kansas House or Senate met in session. But starting in this month, they'll have even more access as committee rooms in the Kansas Statehouse go live with streaming audio.

But there are no immediate plans to begin streaming video, something that state officials say would be too costly.

"Based on current funding, the answer to your question about video is definitely not," said James Miller, the Legislature's chief information technology officer who has been in charge of the project. "Video is literally a quantum leap, both in terms of the technology required and the amount of bandwidth required."

The streaming audio, which has long been sought by open government advocates in Kansas, was a mandate tucked inside the final budget bill that lawmakers passed in the 2016 session.

To pay for it, the Legislature's Division of Computer Services secured a three-year, $199,000 grant from the Information Network of Kansas, an agency that was set up in the early 1990s to help public entities launch e-government services.

When the session starts in January, only three of the 13 Statehouse rooms used for committee hearings will have live audio, but they are rooms that host the most high-profile committees. The remaining 10 will go online in phases, but all should be wired for live audio before the end of the 2017 session.

One of the first rooms is on the first floor of the Statehouse and hosts the House Appropriations, Education and Judiciary committees.

A second room on the fifth floor hosts the Senate Commerce, Assessment and Taxation, Ways and Means, and Utilities committees, as well as meetings of the Senate Republican caucus.

The third room, also on the fifth floor, hosts the House Taxation, Energy and Environment, Utilities and Telecommunications, and Transportation committees.

People will be able to access the audio streams by going to the Legislature's website, clicking on the "Committees" tab and looking up the particular committee they are interested in.

Ron Keefover, president and CEO of the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, which has long advocated for live streaming of the Legislature, called the move to audio streaming a good first step.

"That’s a very easy way to make more transparency at the Kansas Legislature," he said. "It's a good move in the right direction, but we would prefer to have all of the meetings video streamed if possible."

Keefover is a retired spokesman for the Kansas Supreme Court, where he directed the effort to launch live video streaming of Supreme Court hearings. He said that system, which includes two cameras and a control board that can switch between the two, was installed for less than $15,000.

Miller said there is one room in the Statehouse, the Old Supreme Courtroom, that was set up for video streaming a few years ago as a pilot project, and it is still available to committee chairs or legislative leaders who want their events webcast.

"But it's an as-requested kind of thing at this point," he said.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Peter Hancock

Quelle/Source: Lawrence Journal World, 02.01.2017

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