Livestreaming for Governments: How to Reach Your Community

Livestreaming has become a valuable tool for governments to increase civic engagement. Governments of all sizes have taken to streaming city council meetings as a way to communicate their message to their community. Several cities such as the City of New York have passed bylaws that require local governments to start streaming city council meetings. By livestreaming, governments are demonstrating transparency and accountability; it also provides real-time and accurate information to citizens quickly and efficiently.

Why You Need to Stream Your City Council and Government Meetings Online

Mobile + Digital Is The New Normal

According to a Nielsen Company audience report, the average American spends over 10 hours a day online. Technology has become an everyday part of our lives. Gone are the days where someone will physically make a complaint at city hall. They’re more likely to voice their concerns over phone, in a tweet, or an email. When constituents want to look up community events for the month, they are also more likely to look online. Streaming press conferences, town halls, and government meetings online gives governments and city councils a real opportunity to meet their constituents where they are.

Constituents May Not Be Physically Present

While constituents may want to attend every meeting, the reality is that they can’t always be physically present. You might be located far away, transportation might be a challenge, people may be on vacation. Give constituents the flexibility to fit your meeting into their day – whether by livestream or on-demand – and be rewarded with a more engaged audience as a result. Give constituents the option to watch the livestream at a time that suits them, from the comforts of their home, and they will very likely get more out of it and tune in more often.

How Local Governments Are Using Live Video

Many municipalities and governments are addressing these challenges and providing their residents with more ways to observe and engage by streaming city council meetings.

In 2014, New York City passed legislation requiring all community boards to livestream their board meetings.

The city of Austin, Texas streams 3,100 video clips to its residents each month.

Many others in Arizona, North Carolina, Chicago, and Los Angeles are also streaming city council meetings several times a week on average.

6,959,622 viewers watched 241 politically-focused streams on Livestream from November 2016-17, leaving 5,355 comments.

48,284 viewers watched the US Department of the Interior’s Livestream in 2017.

Over 112,000 views have been generated by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s Livestream account of more than 8,000 followers, as of February 2018.

388 government organizations across 70 countries used Livestream to broadcast 10,597 events in 2017.

2 million live concurrent viewers and 3 million live watch hours were generated across 6 news networks that used YouTube to livestream the first 2016 US presidential debate. (Source:TechCrunch)

80% of audiences would rather watch live video than read a blog. (Source: Livestream and New York Magazine “Win a Free Mevo” Survey)

82% of viewers prefer live video to social posts. (Source: Livestream and New York Magazine “Win a Free Mevo” Survey)

78% of people watch videos online every week. (Source: HubSpot)

67% of viewers say quality is the most important factor when watching a livestream broadcast. (Source: Livestream and New York Magazine “Win a Free Mevo” Survey)

100m hours of Facebook videos are watched every day. (Source:Recode)

A livestream of a Chicago City Council meeting.

5 Things You Need to Consider for Your Government Livestream

Smarsh’s “Facebook Live: Best Practices” shares a few best practices to make livestreaming for your city council or government a success.

#1 What Is the Purpose of Your Livestream?

As with any strategy, your livestream should be built on a goal or purpose. Some considerations: Who is your target audience? What information do you wish to communicate? That purpose may evolve as your livestreaming efforts expand, but it’s important to bear in mind what the main focus of each livestream is, who you aim to reach, and how success will be measured.

#2 Announce and Promote Regular Broadcasts

“LIVE” doesn’t mean “by surprise,” says Smarsh, an archiving platform. Announce, promote and share upcoming livestreams through your social media accounts and remember to direct them to the channel or platform you’re broadcasting from. Smarsh recommends regular scheduled broadcasts, such as a weekly or monthly community wrap-up, to build a consistent following over time.

#3 Train Your Spokesperson for Branding and Consistency

Do not underestimate the importance of training your live video representatives to ensure messaging of your organization is consistent across the board. Consistency and emphasis will help reinforce your livestream “as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of quality information in the community,” says Smarsh.

The City of Chicago livestreams its Police Academy Welcome.

#4 Repeat Key Information

When livestreaming during an emergency, it’s worth noting that viewers are more likely to retain key information when they are repeated. Smash recommends repeating key details such as phone numbers, websites, names and locations at least three times during an emergency. They should also be shared on social media channels and your website.

#5 Drive Your Audience to Social

Whether it’s a livestream or on-demand video, make a habit of sharing or forwarding the content on social media platforms and encourage your viewers to do the same. “This built-in audience is essential to helping you spread the word to your entire community,” says Smarsh.

What Governments Are Saying About Live Video

“Livestreaming board meetings is an efficient and inclusive way to encourage more citizen involvement in the county government process.” – John Barkley, County Administrator, Greene County, VA

“Livestream has been tremendous in facilitating the Chicago Mayor’s Office’s ability to connect with residents. Chicagoans can just go to the City’s website from any device and view the mayor’s events live in real time.” – Ankur Thakkar, City of Chicago Office of the Mayor

“2.9b people are online. If you can’t use video to get to them, you’re irrelevant.” – Dana Berchman, Chief Digital Officer of Gilbert, AZ

Looking to livestream your next council meeting? Find a platform plan that suits your needs and budget.

Using an eCDN for Corporate Communications

Imagine delivering a flawless, broadcast-quality live video message from your executive team, or a live training event, to all of your employees, on any device, wherever they are, without clogging your network bandwidth. Can your corporate network support live events for large audiences without creating a bandwidth bottleneck or crashing? This is something organizations must find solutions for when planning internal live broadcasts to ensure high-quality streaming for no-fail events.

Livestream’s new Peer-to-Peer Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN) solves for these issues by supporting an HD-quality seamless live viewing experience while minimizing the stress on your corporate network, reducing bandwidth consumption and cost, and maintaining privacy and security regulations.

Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications empowers IT and communications teams to deliver a flawless streaming video event, without risking network health or compromising critical business functions.

What is eCDN?

An eCDN is an enterprise content delivery network, which is one way for companies to distribute content within their corporate network, creating a safety net for their internal bandwidth pipe.

A peer-to-peer eCDN helps to avoid network bottlenecks that occur when a large number of concurrent viewers in one office are watching the same content, such as a live broadcast. Instead of individual employee devices all pinging a single server to access a stream, a P2P eCDN reduces the amount of bandwidth needed coming from the external server. Instead, Livestream’s eCDN uses the bandwidth inside the company, redistributing the requests to devices within the LAN, improving stream quality and reducing the bandwidth load on a company’s internal network.

How Video Is Driving Corporate Communications Trends

Video is the fastest and easiest way to learn and retain information. Streaming your internal and all hands meetings has become de rigueur at large companies, but these in-demand, data-heavy streams can have massive network implications.

Today video is being used in organizations for a variety of purposes:
• Employee training and product demos
• All hands or town halls
• Internal HR events and panels

Streaming company-wide meetings is an effective way to keep employees engaged. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, engaged employees report 31% higher productivity and 37% higher sales. Conversely, the Dale Carnegie Institute reports that businesses with disengaged employees lose $11b annually.

This engagement data is driving demand for access to video in the workplace: according to Cisco, global business IP traffic is set to grow 21% from 2015 to 2021, which will require updated infrastructure to handle the load.

To avoid additional expenses or potential network failures, many corporations are considering eCDNs to meet these new challenges.

Traditional content delivery vs. Livestream’s eCDN for corporate communications

In a traditional content delivery setup, viewers connect to a server to obtain the streaming video they have requested. This server can either be inside the company or external – an example would be video content cached and delivered from a Cloud provider. Both of these setups have their limitations.

If everyone in the company tries to connect to a single server at the headquarters, the connections will quickly become saturated and the server will likely crash as it was not meant to handle thousands of simultaneous requests for data-heavy video.

If the server is in the cloud, companies often have significant limitations when it comes to connecting to the internet. They generally have a fixed capacity when it comes to external bandwidth, and networks are often not dimensioned for a massive amount of data requests from outside their network. Firewalls can further delay external calls, creating huge bottlenecks.

This makes streaming live video within the enterprise network very difficult. There are several means of mitigating this problem, and these solutions are collectively known as “eCDN.”

Solution 1: Install caching servers within the company network at each site.

Installing caching servers allows you to place a copy of the video close to your viewers to avoid the congestion of large numbers of requests to a single server. The challenge is this solution requires both significant CAPEX (cash) and OPEX (operating expenses). Servers are expensive, and installing and maintaining them requires significant expertise and dedicated personnel. In addition to regular maintenance, you’ll also need a dedicated IT team at each site to maintain servers to guarantee no-fail live streams.

Solution 2: Use an internal multicasting tool.

A multicasting tool broadcasts content en masse to every computer on the network. This requires specific equipment that supports multicast, and may also necessitate changing workstation software to be able to support multicast streams. This is not the “typical” streaming setup so it can require additional configuration in addition to this CAPEX.

Solution 3: Legacy P2P solutions.

Peer-to-peer within company networks has existed for many years. The principle of P2P is to use the abundant bandwidth within the enterprise network. However, the solutions on the market have had several major drawbacks: at the very least they have required users to install a plugin in their browsers or an app. Some providers even require companies to change their entire video stack and use a special, non-standard streaming protocol.

Solution 4: Livestream’s peer-to-peer based eCDN

Our eCDN distributes the stream with peer-to-peer networking, harnessing idle internal network bandwidth to more effectively distribute the stream. With Livestream, employees connect to the stream as they would in a typical video streaming setup. However, instead of getting the entire video directly from the server, their video player will also ask for segments of content from nearby co-workers viewing devices. This more efficiently distributes bandwidth requirements within your network, eliminating the risk of bottlenecks to the server, slow connections, and poor video quality.

Benefits of Livestream’s eCDN for Corporate Communications

Livestream’s peer-to-peer eCDN shares video across your intranet, utilizing a fraction of the bandwidth necessary from external servers. This allows you to stream high-quality video without interruption, without impacting your bandwidth or internal network.

Lower network costs
With our cloud-based eCDN, you’re not paying for higher capacity networks or any additional hardware.
Ease of use for employees
Using our eCDN does not require viewers to download additional plugins or software. They can still view your streaming video anywhere you would normally display that content. Additionally, since our eCDN is cloud-based, there is no installation cost or time spent.
Better quality streaming at scale
Viewers across the corporate network will experience better video quality and less buffering from using an eCDN.
7-day US-based support
Livestream Enterprise support experts are just a phone call away, any day of the week.

How eCDN works with your existing Livestream account

Many eCDNs work with desktop plug-ins or costly additional hardware or software. Unlike other peer-based eCDN solutions, Livestream requires no installation on workstations and no changes to your video workflow configuration. We use standard HTTP streaming formats and offer plug-and-play integrations for desktop.

Our technology is based on WebRTC, meaning connections are made directly through the browser and there is no workstation software to install, and no browser extensions or plugins for users to manage.

Livestream’s eCDN can be activated one time by your account manager and then can be toggled on and off within your Livestream dashboard to use as you see fit. There is no work or downloads required by the end user, and no additional hardware to purchase.

How do we set up your eCDN?
• First, we test the webRTC connections inside your network.
• Your account manager enables eCDN on your Livestream account and tests different devices on the same network. If you have multiple sites, we will test each site.
• Finally, Livestream will organize a global test with the company users and a test live video. After this, your eCDN is ready to stream.

Want to learn more? Existing Livestream customers can contact their Account Manager, or visit this page and complete a Custom request form