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Santa Monica Council Chambers to Get High-Tech Makeover
By Jorge Casuso
July 8, 2019 -- A new high tech system that will be installed in the Santa Monica council chambers later this year will allow public officials to cast electronic votes and members of the public to sign up to speak using a kiosk in the lobby.
Those are among the features of a new $452,750 AV, meeting management and computer system the City Council approved last week in order to meet "the needs of a 21st century city."
"The equipment and software are becoming obsolete, unreliable and increasingly unsupportable," staff wrote in its report to the Council last Tuesday.
"It is increasingly difficult to repair or find replacements for many of the system’s components since many of the models have been discontinued.
"In addition, the existing system lacks certain functional features that support the public’s needs," staff said.
Mayor Gleam Davis questioned the need to spend nearly half a million dollars to "gussy up our chamber" when the City is looking for ways to tighten its fiscal belt.
She was assured by City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren that the upgrades were necessary and would increase access for the disabled with such features as closed captioning.
Councilmember Kevin McKeown took exception to the Mayor's use of the word "gussy up."
"This is about transparency and accessibility," he said. “This is anything but a gussying up. This is a move toward better democracy.”
In addition to the kiosks and electronic voting system, the new technology allows the City Clerk and mayor or meeting chair to view the list of speakers who signed up electronically and display voting results on high-resolution monitors.
The new system also generates automated meeting minutes, has plug-in capabilities for tablets and laptops and integrates the the AV system into the CityTV system.
The vote to award the contract to KeyCode Media, which was the lowest bidder, was unanimous.
The company has done a similar upgrade for the council chambers in the City of Burbank, as well as numerous projects for the City of Los Angeles, staff said.
In addition to providing and installing the equipment, KeyCode Media will "develop a design to ensure the new system fits the City’s needs" and make "any necessary physical changes to the Council Chambers to accommodate the new system," staff said.
Construction is scheduled for late this year when there will be fewer meetings in the Council Chambers.
During construction, meetings will be held in the east wing of the Civic Auditorium, officials said.
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