Whether in times of prosperity or instability, it is the responsibility of those working in the public sector to communicate transparently with constituents and provide updates that reinforce community safety, support and education—and it is in the best interest of these institutions to find ways to involve the public and make them feel heard.
As local and state governments look to create an open dialogue of communication surrounding today’s biggest social, environmental and political issues, updating the public in real time has become a way for leaders to steer the conversation forward.
There is a new insurgence of participation in local, state and federal conversations when it comes to public policy. The public is feeling empowered to be heard and taking different avenues to get their voices and ideas across to our community leaders.
As we’ve seen over the past month, protestors are marching to amplify their voices on social issues. What’s happening behind the scenes powering many of these marches is the use of video conferencing tools, like BlueJeans, to both plan and follow up with city councils, police commissioner’s offices and local leaders—and these institutions are responding in kind.
The City of Santa Monica, for example, held a virtual celebration of Juneteenth over BlueJeans Events called “Moving Forward Together” to have a panel discussion on the inequities Black Americans and Communities of Color have faced.
Prior to COVID-19, such public meetings would generally have taken place in person or via a telephone conference line, making it difficult for the public to sense what is and isn’t getting through to elected officials. But with COVID-19 abruptly bringing video conferencing to the forefront as a safer way to communicate with family, peers and constituents alike, many of these types of forums and hearings have moved over to the virtual world.
Video conferencing in the public sector is changing the game when it comes to making social change for the following reasons:
1. Easier to Participate
a. Video conferencing is giving people the ability to participate in something they’d otherwise not. Being able to join a public hearing virtually from the comfort of your home is giving professionals, parents and youth a more accessible way to participate wherever they happen to be. Instead of taking off work and driving to a public hearing, anyone can join online and become informed. Tools like BlueJeans Events can simply be accessed by common web browsers. Once an event is scheduled, organizers simply share URL join links with moderators, presenters and attendees for one-click entry.
b. More people may feel inclined to voice their opinion who otherwise wouldn’t have. Standing up in public and speaking to your peers can be frightening and counter-productive to social change. With video conferencing, individuals can join and speak freely in a comfortable setting increasing overall engagement.
c. Video conferencing can provide organization to mass-conversations. While community participation opens a two-way dialogue between speakers and audience members, additional control is needed to keep the public message free from rogue commentary. BlueJeans Events comes with standards-based administrative safeguards that prevent damaging activity to any live event, as well as new features to maximize control and management of public streaming events.
2. Video Recording Equals Longer Impact
a. Visuals play a powerful role in our modern digital world. By having public hearings recorded there can be a longer lasting impact and accountability to what is discussed. Video clips can be shared online, picked up by other media platforms and shared with the public. This ability to capture and circulate exactly what happened gives more power to the public opinion. The more voices that are heard by more members of the community creates more accountability of our public officials.
3. Quicker Actions
a. Video conferencing allows for quicker actions to be taken. Especially in the current environment, where in-person meetings should be limited, it’s possible for decisions to be pushed until a “live meeting” can happen. With video conferencing all impacted parties can join and discuss, like in-person, the appropriate next steps. Things like COVID-19 won’t be slowing down the process for change.
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