The goal for any healthy local municipality is communication, but if technology isn’t there that goal can be even harder to reach. Any large corporation can tell you how hard it is to stay on top of audio visual products for meeting spaces. Now imagine how difficult this is for municipalities and civic centers with historic buildings and unpredictable fiscal budgets. In this article, we will explore considerations for any city who is ready to upgrade the A/V.


Consideration for Audio Technology

In any space larger than face-to-face speaking, it can be difficult hearing those talking. When it’s time for an AV upgrade in the space where the larger city council meetings, school board meetings or town hall gatherings are held, mic placement is incredibly important. Additionally, voice lift ensures the ability to pick up the speaker’s voice and amplify it throughout the space.


Other audio considerations like gooseneck microphones that are attached to dais and on public lecterns are ideal for public use or committee usage. As these audio technologies have advanced, they now provide integrated mute buttons. In a use case, council members can have private sidebar conversations then re-engage with ease.


While many civic spaces tend to be historical buildings with difficult technology accommodations, one consideration could be ceiling microphones. This solution allows for voice lift with results like traditional gooseneck or handheld microphones. In times past, ceiling microphones haven’t always had a great aesthetic reputation (think choir mics from the 1990s), but today’s ceilings mics are able to integrate well even in high-finish ceilings.


Consideration for Visual and Streaming Technology

Depending on any organization’s rules or state/local laws, many public agencies are often required to record proceedings and make them publicly available. As technologies like high definition (HD), 4K, etc., become more commonplace for the end users, so is the need for local municipalities to provide their recorded content on that level. Not only is this great for the end user, but as internal TV feeds, streaming platforms or local TV feeds increase in use, so does the need for improved camera/video capabilities.


The use of recording and streaming technologies (like YouTube, Facebook or Zoom) comes with its own set of considerations. Fixed and remote-controlled PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras can be another consideration. Both of these types of cameras means the viewer is able to see who is speaking at the City Council meeting or who is being presented with an award at the Planning and Zoning meeting. Camera integration paired well with an upgraded audio visual control system makes operating the cameras and switching between views incredibly simple and easy to use – no matter who is operating the system.


Consideration for Digital Displays

With virtual meetings and the decrease (in general) of passing out paper material, digital displays in the civic space have saved a lot of time and money while increasing the overall aesthetic. Like ceiling mics mentioned above, display technology like projectors and screens have come a long way even in the last decade. Today, high-efficiency and high-brightness projectors are more affordable than ever before with a nod to laser light engine technology. Laser light engine technology has also helped to make the life of the technology more reasonable to manage.


Finding the right projector comes with finding the right projection screen. One consideration with screens is where a projector competes with daylight (at different times of day). As well as selecting a projection screen material that rejects ambient light will prevent the projected image from looking too light or washed out.


Considerations for what Covid Taught Us

Of the many lessons we all learned during Covid-19, one was a need for local governments to make sure the public they represent could still be part of the local process – from virtually attending City Council meetings to also being able to voice their concerns with the proper technology. While some civic centers were technologically ready for virtual gatherings, some were sent scrambling to create solutions. Often these solutions are cobbled together to “make do” when resources were limited and planning was an afterthought. As time has passed and local governments have time to evaluate, now could be a great time to consider the local government teaming up with a talented AV designer to better evaluate the needs and goals and create a plan that provides both an outstanding in-person and streaming experience to every citizen.