Live streaming technology has transformed the way governments communicate with citizens, employees, and citizens of other countries. It has gone beyond just providing video streaming of events, to encompass all facets of government operations. Live streaming offers various benefits to government organizations and can help them fulfill their mission more effectively and efficiently. This article outlines some key reasons why governments should consider using live streaming for their communications efforts.
Why choose live streaming?
Live streaming technology is becoming increasingly popular as governments and their departments strive to reach larger audiences with more engaging content. Video broadcasts can help create a sense of shared community while connecting citizens to local leaders, policymakers, and city governments. This type of technology provides an accessible, inexpensive way for government departments to increase engagement and transparency across all levels of operation. Here are some key reasons why governments should consider using streaming platforms:
- Transparency – Live streaming for governments provides real-time updates on the progress of projects and initiatives, allowing citizens to follow along in a timely manner. This helps enhance trust between citizens and the government while ensuring that projects are conducted in an open and accountable manner.
- Engagement – Live streaming allows governments to connect with citizens more effectively than ever before, enabling interactive Q&A sessions, public feedback opportunities, and other forms of two-way dialogue.
- Accessibility – By using streaming platforms, government departments can reach wider audiences regardless of geographic location or device usage patterns. This is especially helpful for international campaigns that require global scales of communication or engagement without sacrificing reach or message clarity.
- Cost Efficiency – Streaming services are inexpensive compared to other ways for government agencies to communicate with their constituents. Investing in this form of technology means decreased print costs, reduced travel expenses, and many other cost savings throughout the course of a campaign or initiative.
Strategies for Live Streaming
Government entities should consider implementing these strategies when looking to stream live events:
- Pick the right platform—Choosing a reliable, user-friendly platform is essential for success. Live streaming requires both hardware and software support and certain platforms have restrictions based on organizational size, geographic location, or type of content being streamed.
- Develop unified communications—Governments can use live streaming to connect their own internal offices located in different locations or engage with viewers around the globe. By using unified communications such as web conferencing, live chat capabilities, and VoIP services together with video delivery systems, government entities are better equipped to manage geographically-dispersed communication needs more efficiently than other methods like physical travel or traditional “airwave” communication technologies would allow.
- Prioritize accessibility—Government-oriented live streams should follow best practices related to digital accessibility standards like WCAG 2 guidelines. This will ensure disabled users are able to access content equally as able-bodied users via assistive technologies like screen readers, large font capabilities, and alt text labeling options during broadcasting events.
- Plan ahead—In general, it is recommended agencies plan ahead when setting up a live stream by organizing media shoots weeks in advance so there is enough time for prepping the idea correctly from a technical perspective. This will include testing the audio/video equipment prior to the broadcast day to choosing a safe location for optimal signal transmission quality.
- Consider engaging viewers—Strengthening civic engagement can be more effective when local government officials take advantage of the interactive dining benefits that come with popular social media platforms such as Facebook Live. This is where viewers are able to interact directly with governmental representatives by submitting questions during event proceedings as well as share experiences obtaining better geographic/demographic insights into population trends.
Government entities must be especially mindful of security considerations when live-streaming events. The type of event being streamed, the technology used to stream it, and the privacy rights of participants should all factor into the decision-making process. Live streaming can be a powerful tool to connect citizens with their government leaders, but if not managed properly it could also pose significant security risks.
When live streaming a council meeting or an event held in a physical space, access to that space must be tightly controlled. Live video must be monitored by knowledgeable staff during the entire broadcast (and after) to ensure only authorized personnel view, comment, or interact with the stream’s content. Intrusion detection and prevention systems should also be employed along with multiple layers of authentication and permissions to restrict access and alert administrators if suspicious activity occurs.
Furthermore, the technology used for live streaming should protect data in transit by encoding all traffic with an industry-standard encryption protocol such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS). This will help ensure that only authorized users are able to view data as it is transferred from one system to another.
What are the challenges?
Live streaming for governments can present a variety of challenges if not done correctly. One limiting factor is the need to ensure that streaming is secure, as live streams can present potential targets for malicious actors and seekers. Firewalls and other security measures must be in place to protect both the content and the participants.
Furthermore, live streaming also requires reliable, stable internet connections which could be difficult in certain settings. Additionally, government staff may require training on how to use live stream platforms and the technical process of setting up an event. Setting up hardware and software to broadcast official meetings will add many new costs which should be considered along with potential benefits.
Finally, legal restrictions may need to be adhered to when broadcasting content over web-based services so that private information or proceedings are not inadvertently exposed.
As the discussion above has highlighted, live streaming offers governments a range of benefits that should not be overlooked. Live streaming can facilitate citizen engagement in political and public decision-making processes, encourage transparency within government operations, and offer governments an effective and cost-efficient way to maintain contact with citizens during crises.
Ultimately, governments should consider opting for live streaming as a means of building trust with citizens while also helping to save time and resources.