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Impact on Small Governments

SUMMARY

In 2018 and 2019, the Open Media Foundation conducted a case-study to evaluate the impact of implementing our Open.Media Government Video Streaming Software Service for small governments. The full results of that case study can be seen here in the Original case study document.

With over 50 state and local governments using the Open.Media Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the case study was designed to document the costs and results of implementing this transparency and engagement tool, while identifying best-practices for maximizing impact and return-on-investment for small governments with limited budgets.

For the case-study, we included 4 small governments and tracked their workflow and web traffic before, during, and after implementing the Open.Media Saas. 

FOUR CASE STUDY SITES

Each participating site received grant funding to launch their Open.Media platform, in addition, to support for participation in the case-study. While the participants had previously provided audio recordings of their meetings, none had streamed and archived video of meetings. The source of funding and aspects of local government using the service are as follows:

  • Idaho Springs, Colorado (Population, 1,746): The Statewide Internet Portal Authority and Open Media Foundation provided matching grant support for Idaho Springs, using the Open.Media service for City Council Meetings. A single, low-cost camera (Mevo) was installed with one staff member trained to operate the equipment and software.
  • Cortez, Colorado (Population, 9,007): The Orton Family Foundation provided funding for Cortez, CO through their Community Heart and Soul Program. Cortez uses the Open.Media service for their City Council Meetings, in addition to a range of special meetings for governmental and non-governmental events. Cortez had pre-existing equipment and only needed to add an encoder and the Open.Media software.
  • The Dalles, Oregon (Population 15,572): Google provided funding for The Dalles, which uses the Open.Media Service for meetings of their City Council, Town Hall, Planning Commission, Historic Landmarks, and Urban Renewal Agency. The Dalles had a pre-existing audio recording system, which we connected to the same Mevo camera utilized in Idaho Springs.
  • Custer County, Colorado (Population 4,874): The Statewide Internet Portal Authority and Open Media Foundation provided matching grant support for Custer County for streaming and archiving of County Commissioner meetings. A similar Mevo camera solution was employed for Custer County.

The Open.Media service costs $6,000 annually. A 50% matching grant/discount is provided for governments serving populations of 50,000 or fewer, such as Cortez and The Dalles, and a 100% grant/discount is provided for governments serving populations under 5,000, as was the case for Custer County and Idaho Springs.

OUTCOMES

While the Open.Media service did result in increased web traffic to each participating government, we found the greatest change was in traffic via social media, primarily YouTube and Facebook. Because the Open.Media SaaS is built on YouTube, the significant increase in searchable content on YouTube results in consistent new viewership via YouTube Searches. Also, with the integrated Facebook and Twitter sharing, governments using Open.Media experience significant traffic on Facebook, where citizens often share video clips. 

Another valuable outcome came from measuring cost and workload required to implement the Open.Media software. Below you will see data summarizing Setup Costs, Staff Workload, and Facebook referrals.

Average Open.Media Streaming Setup Costs

Open.Media Software CostEquipment & Setup Costs
Average$1,500/year$1,410
High$3,000/year$5,064
Low$0$745

As shown, the setup costs for the Open.Media service are surprisingly low, with the average government investing under $1,500 in equipment and setup costs, and SaaS licensing averaging only $1,500/year.

Average Staff Workload Across Sites 

Average Time Per Meeting Baseline (Before Open.Media)Average Time Per Meeting Quarter 1 Average Time Per Meeting Quarter 4
10 minutes 4.5 minutes4.6 minutes

Because the Open.Media workflow streamlined many steps for our case study participants, the workload time actually decreased with use of Open.Media. 

Average monthly facebook referrals (Monthly visitors via facebook links)

Before Open.MediaAfter Open.Media
Idaho Springs0.001.67
Cortez0.0022.67
The Dalles33.00184.00
Cortez177.33207.67
Average11.0069.44

Our 4 case-study participants averaged only 11 Facebook referrals per month for the quarter leading up to the case study process. By the end of their first year, they averaged 69 monthly visitors to their page via facebook links.

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