Shen Milsom & Wilke | Maryland House of Delegates

Technology consultants recommend Mediasite for modern Maryland House and Delegates facility.

Technology consultants recommend Mediasite for modern Maryland House and Delegates facility. Shen Milsom & Wilke (SM&W), a technology consulting company, needed to find a comprehensive technology solution for the Maryland State House of Delegates (MD-HOD). The MD-HOD was building a new office wing and wanted a high-tech yet easy way to deliver government meeting content to the public. With no AV staff, the MD-HOD needed a simple system that could transmit quality video and graphics and archive content. SM&W discovered Mediasite at a tradeshow and knew it was the perfect solution.

With Mediasite, delegates can begin and end recording with a simple remote control, and the public can view sessions live or on-demand. SM&W integrated microphones for each delegate and robotic cameras in each meeting room. Staff members are also able to upload agendas and choose what they want to appear on LCD video screens in each location. Although gallery seating is limited, Mediasite allows an unlimited number of interested viewers to access the almost 30 presentations recorded each month.

At a glance

  • Maryland State House of Delegates office expansion requires new technology
  • Mediasite eliminates post-production costs and enables non-technical staff to operate the system without AV or IT training
  • Legislative proceedings are simultaneously available to a broader, public audience and later archived for research, review and historical record

Challenge

In 1999, the Maryland State House of Delegates (MD-HOD) met with SM&W and Baltimore architect CSD to program and budget for its long-term vision of providing public access to live legislative meetings. The MD-HOD planned to double the size of its existing office building by adding a 92,000-square-foot wing with six new committee hearing rooms and a central audiovisual control room with a TV studio.

MD-HOD wanted to take advantage of lessons learned from the Maryland Senate’s new office building, ensuring that technologies implemented in their new building would support collaboration, minimize staffing requirements and provide solutions for remote viewing and archiving of sessions.

The new hearing rooms have limited seating space for public attendance, so alternate access solutions were discussed, including the use of internet-based applications. In addition, the group sought a way to simultaneously display live and changing legislative agenda information describing committee sessions and topics scheduled for discussion.

Greg Moquin, senior associate/AV consultant, has been with SM&W for 10 years. “Their goal was to broadcast all meetings simultaneously with an automated solution,” said Moquin. “We wanted to provide an automated system that would closely duplicate the higher level of video production currently manned and operated by Maryland Public Television.”

Moquin attended a trade show in 2003 and thought of the Maryland House of Delegates while watching a Sonic Foundry Mediasite demonstration. SM&W immediately recognized Mediasite was a perfect fit for the MD-HOD project.

“From this presentation, we learned that Mediasite could retrieve files of any type from a server and incorporate them into a presentation as an agenda. Also, since the Maryland House of Delegates has no AV staff, we were looking for a solution that the users could operate easily,” Moquin said.

Solution

Using an AMX® remote control system, delegates could easily start and stop a Mediasite recording session. Moquin said, “Live and on-demand viewing and archiving was extremely important because they wanted to capture legislative meetings for the historical record. The automatic synchronization of a presentation’s video and graphic elements together with the content is also impressive.”

The AV integrator, Richmond, Virginia-based Whitlock Group, installed the Mediasite system along with five robotic Pan Tilt Zoom cameras in each of the six committee rooms. To increase the production value and automate the process, they also installed a delegate conference system (manufactured by Danish Interpretation Systems) with microphones at each delegate seat. Through the AMX® control panel, the chairperson recognizes each person to speak, while the programmed video camera automatically focuses on the selected delegate or witness.

Six legislative committees exist within the House of Delegates. All six meet simultaneously at any given time during the three- to four-month legislative session. Beginning in January 2007, ten to 30 presentations will be created each month, per committee, throughout the duration of the session.

The committee chairs also use the AMX® control panel to select what content will be displayed on the eight 40” flat LCD display panels and recorded using Mediasite. The Maryland General Assembly’s clerks and IT staff generate legislative text for agenda to be imported into the Mediasite presentation for viewing by the public and staff. The upcoming session will be the first time that constituents will be able to view legislative committee sessions live via the Internet.

“Mediasite allows us to easily automate what could be a very unwieldy content recording process,” Moquin said. “But, because it is so easy to use and automates the entire recording and publishing process, we are confident that it can handle this type of workload.”

Result

Although gallery seating is limited, lobbyists and witnesses can view legislative proceedings over the web. Committee staff can also monitor the proceedings online or with the in-house IP-managed Endeleo CATV system.

Moquin attributes the success of this massive undertaking to careful communication among all parties. “It is important that planners meet with organizations’ IT staff to coordinate so that all parties understand all the pieces required for full implementation.”

About Shen Milsom & Wilke

Shen Milsom & Wilke, an international technology consulting practice founded in 1986, offers comprehensive services in the areas of multimedia, telecommunications, building security and acoustics. The firm has a staff of more than 140 professionals and offices in New York, Princeton, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Houston, Denver, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Dubai, Hong Kong, and London.