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Northampton County Council gets ready for its close up

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 21 2013 10:14:57 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 22 2013 06:57:12 AM CST
EASTON, Pa. -

It will probably never be the top-rated program on local TV, but at least the picture will be clearer for viewers of Northampton County Council meetings once $25,000 in new gear is installed in council chambers, probably in January.

Council agreed Thursday night to tap into its contingency account to pay for new video streaming camera upgrades, which will carry council meetings live in high-definition, to anyone at home who wants to tune in.

County officials said about 400 people watch the meetings live and others watch it later throughout the week.

The meetings are currently streamed on a camera system installed five years ago for about $16,000 and the quality is not that great, said Al Jordan, the county’s information technology director.

The pictures are somewhat grainy and all the council members are not always visible in a shot of the room. The new system, which will have better wide-angle lenses, will not only improve the picture quality but include video of any PowerPoint presentation shown in the room during a meeting, he said.

The old system was installed after the county spent more than $600,000 remodeling council chambers about six or seven years ago. No one thought about installed cameras at the time of the remodeling project but the idea gained traction a few years later and the current system was installed, Jordan said.
“We never really knew if it would take off,” Jordan said. He said the old system was not intended to last as long as it did.

If all goes according to plan, he said, the new system should be ready for prime time for the Jan. 6 meeting.