Making Virginia's government more transparent

I never thought a full-time government gig would be as fulfilling as this one has been. Sometimes, I get the chance to do work that I feel really makes a difference for others.

At-large info:

This year at the Virginia General Assembly, @vahouse and @vasenate have upgraded the user experiences for video provided for daily floor sessions.

iPad-view

We partnered with the fine folks at Granicus for a vast solution to the streaming, tagging, and indexing of video content. House, Senate and DLAS, owners of the Legislative Information System (LIS), worked together to provide interactive streaming content to the public.

Streams of daily floor sessions can be seen at Noon most days and are available for both the House and Senate. Relative legislative content is adjacent to live video, allowing the public to see what’s being discussed and/or passed in one of the bodies and how it will impact them. Preliminary research has been done, and it seems as if the Commonwealth of Virginia is the first to offer this user experience on the iPhone and iPad devices.

For webdevers:

This comprehensive solution is quite a mashup of many technologies. We operate automated recordings and streams in the cloud with PHP (Graniucs’ Media Manager product). Legislative alerts and supplementary bill content are provided by web services and AJAX from proprietary applications. All streams are based on an evaluative hierarchy that allows users of most desktop configs and also mobile users (even iOS users) to see the content. For instance, if a user doesn’t have a particular software installed to view the video, code is in place to select an alternate type of stream that fits with their current configuration. Our h.264 stream made available to the iPhone and iPad is done by way of the Flash Streaming Server delivering an h.264 stream to an external CDN. Using such a hierarchy, we are able to take this new user experience to more people on more devices and machines. A delivery system like this can even provide viewable content for very secure government or private sector organizations that only offer one type of media streaming service.

iPhone-view-landscape

Onsite staff use more Granicus apps (.net based) to tag and organize clips and full sessions. The video tagging workflow provided by Granicus is very powerful and can be manipulated by API from voting systems or other applications.

AJAX driven alerts (status updates for the chamber and other venues on campus) reflect the same information on entry pages that our social media accounts do. This is done by forumula script within the IBM Louts/Domino platform and by using twittercounter API services.

I think we really took things up a notch when it comes to informing the public and it is a project I’m proud to be a part of. Special thanks to my counterpart in the Senate, Maryann Horch. We seem to do well knocking out large projects.

References found along the way:

Retrieving information from a .txt file with AJAX – (Dynamic Drive)

Drop of the h.264 codec from Google Chrome – (SEO Journal)

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