Cost to Gardner for new audio visual equipment is zero.
Although the project has an initial cost of about $70 thousand the use of CARES funding for reimbursement brings Gardner’s final cost to zero.
The project was determined to be an appropriate use of CARES funding Oct. 7. One of the stipulations for utilizing CARES money is that the project must be invoiced and fully paid for by not later than Dec, 30, 2020.
The current audiovisual system in the Gardner City Hall Council Chambers is not adequate to accommodate all the remote participation necessary for hosting socially distanced meetings, according to the staff report. Utilizing the present system, seamless integration of teleconferencing systems is not possible, and use of these systems creates audio feedback within the recording, making it difficult for the remote participants to be understood.
Additionally the current fixed camera angle makes it difficult for those watching remotely to determine who is speaking, several individuals seated at the dais are not visible on camera, and those providing presentations have their backs to the camera while speaking, the report states.
While remote viewing has been encouraged due to the need for social distancing during the COVID 19 pandemic, the combination of these deficiencies creates a diminished experience for those participating or watching remotely.
The upgrades included allow for a movable camera that changes angles based on who is speaking.
Additionally, the upgrades will integrate with teleconference services such as Zoom and Teams to create a seamless experience for all participants and observers. These changes will help to better equalize the remote and in-person experiences.
The total price under this agreement includes installation of the new equipment and removal of current equipment, as well as ongoing customer support.
A quote for $70,295 from Progressive Electronics, Inc., was authorized by the council at their Oct. 19 council meeting.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or, CARES Act, was passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump on March 27th, 2020. The bill allotted $2.2 trillion to provide fast and direct economic aid to the American people negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.