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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Local government

County commissioners’ public hearing chambers getting $90,000 tech upgrade

Aug. 19, 2021 Updated Sun., Aug. 22, 2021 at 8:37 p.m.

Spokane County Commissioner Al French, right, converses with commission candidate Nancy McLauhlin, in 2016 before the start of the interview process to replace Todd Mielke. The commissioners' public hearing room in the basement of the public works building is getting a $90,000-plus tech upgrade to improve the video and audio quality of meeting recordings and livestreams.   (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Spokane County Commissioner Al French, right, converses with commission candidate Nancy McLauhlin, in 2016 before the start of the interview process to replace Todd Mielke. The commissioners' public hearing room in the basement of the public works building is getting a $90,000-plus tech upgrade to improve the video and audio quality of meeting recordings and livestreams.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The video and audio equipment in the Spokane County commissioners’ public hearing room in the bottom of the public works building is bad.

Jared Webley, Spokane County’s spokesperson, has to manage the video and audio in the public hearing room. It’s an extremely outdated system, he said. The recording equipment is more than 20 years old.

Videos are often grainy and audio quality is staticky. Meetings in the commissioners’ public hearing room have been recorded on CDs. Webley has to reformat the recordings in order to disseminate the meetings.

“That took an hour or two just to reformat,” Webley said.

But the caliber of the equipment in the public hearing room should change soon. The county is spending more than $90,000 to upgrade its audio and video setup.

“My goal, and the commissioners’ goal, is to hopefully have this by the end of the year,” Webley said.

Buying audio and visual equipment has been a challenge during the pandemic with thousands of local governments and businesses all looking to simultaneously upgrade their livestreaming capabilities. If it weren’t for the high demand, the county could have outfitted the public hearing room with new gear a while ago, Webley said.

It might not seem like a big deal to have amateur-looking meeting videos, Webley said. But he emphasized the current setup is simply inadequate for the 21st century, and Spokane County residents deserve better video quality.

“Right now we barely have the ability in that room to conduct virtual meetings,” Webley said. “We wanted the ability … to livestream meetings like the city of Spokane does.”

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