Hybrid Meetings – continuing the democratic debate

Customer: City of Ghent (Stad Gent)
Expertise & industry: Audiovisual solutions
Technology: hybrid meeting rooms, teleconferencing solutions

It is fair to say the COVID pandemic had an immense impact on the world. The crisis raised some serious challenges, not in the least for local authorities. How can you continue the democratic process of the public debate in full transparency when you are not allowed to meet?

Organizing a digital council meeting is no easy task. On the one hand, all participants need to have operational equipment. On the other hand, all legal requirements must be fulfilled.

Like many other cities, Stad Gent has opted to set up a virtual city council meeting using teleconferencing solutions such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The virtual sessions have been made open and available to the public using a streaming solution.

How does it work?

Stad Gent has already prepared for a (partial) return to the council room. Axians AV has implemented the necessary tools to allow the so-called hybrid meeting.  Members of the council who are present in the council room can debate with members who participate from home. The televic conference system and automated camera system using several Lumens Full HD PTZ cameras provide clear sound and video from the room itself, while the input from the virtual participants is seamlessly integrated with the council room.

COVID-19 has redefined the way we hold meetings. The hybrid meeting will be the standard for the future. It is fair to say Axians AV and Stad Gent are well equipped to handle any challenges that may occur in the future.

“We are confident that the hybrid set-up will be here to stay. The idea is of course to keep the interaction of the debate as high as possible, and to allow people to come together physically again, but we can perfectly imagine that there will still be participants who follow the council meeting from home. We also have an obligation to make our sessions public: on our website, the press and citizens can follow along without any problems.”

Johan Vereecke, Executive Assistant of Bestuursondersteuning Stad Gent