Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Introducing Channel 21: The NV Senate's New Communications Channel

These last few months have seen a variety of developments in the Senate's continuing campaign to make the legislative process more accessible, more understandable, and more relevant to its nearly three million constituents, the residents of Nevada.

But no effort has been more central to this push than Channel 21.

Channel 21 Brings Senate Communications Into the 21st Century
Channel 21 is a brand new communications channel that we are using to communicate news and information about what's happening in the Nevada Senate.  Its name reminds us that we live in a 21st Century world with 21st Century communications.  We hope to use this channel to share developments about Nevada's 21 Senators and all they do to create good public policy in our state.  Oh and by the way, Channel 21 (at least one of its five feeds) can be found on Channel 21 on our internal cable feed here at the Legislative Building.

Five feeds?  You read that right.  Because you see, Channel 21 is actually five different streams of information, each with its own focus and purpose.

Outside my own office, a Channel 21 monitor serves as a "Welcome to the Legislature," with general news and information about what's happening here in the Legislative Building.  Our custom-built homepage includes a news ticker, weather, building calendar information, and rotating content that gives visitors a basic orientation to the legislative process and key dates on the upcoming calendar.  We suspect that this is among the first things many visitors will see when they enter the building, so this monitor is a jargon-free zone.

Outside the Senate Chamber, a Channel 21 monitor focuses on the Senate's floor sessions.  Here, during floor sessions, you'll see live video and an up-to-date agenda viewer for the day's session.  In between floor sessions, you'll see information here explaining what the different orders of business in a typical floor session entail, and a glossary of some of the more popular motions and language of parliamentary procedure.
Jargon Alert! The monitor outside chambers describes parliamentary language.

On the second floor, you'll find a Channel 21 monitor that provides introductory information for each of Nevada's 21 Senators, as well as a map that shows you how to get to their offices.  Our introductory slides detail each Senator's committee assignments too.

Speaking of committees, the Channel 21 monitor in our central lobby on the second floor is focused on the committee process.  Here, during morning and afternoon committee meeting times, you'll find a screen that shows live feeds of all four Senate committee rooms, so at a glance you can see which committees are currently in session, and who is speaking in each committee room.  We've also developed an agenda viewer that shows you the committee agenda for each of the day's meetings.

The fifth Channel 21 feed is one you can see yourself right now, on Apple/QuickTime or Windows Media Player.  This feed, which is seen on monitors in each Senator's office and on our online stream, is designed to be viewed by visitors to Senate offices and the Senate website.  We've optimized this content to be viewable on a variety of smaller screens - so no small text fonts here.

Channel 21's Lobby View Shows 4 Committee Rooms at Once
Channel 21 is a labor of love for us in the Senate because it marries our technological focus with our staff-wide push to promote participatory democracy.  The system is maintained by the Senate's Technology Clerk, a new Front Desk position whose focus is to help deliver quality information to the public on the legislative process.  All members of the Senate staff are asked to contribute ideas and content.

We hope you find the system useful, and invite you to tweet us feedback and suggestions to improve the system by using hashtag #c21nv.  We're monitoring that hashtag and hope to include your great ideas in our future content.

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