House committee searches texts of hearings via video

House committee searches texts of hearings via video

The House Government Reform subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census yesterday became the first House committee to use video-to-text technology for hearings. As a part of a Library of Congress project, the full Government Reform Committee and all of its subcommittees will use technology from FedNet Inc. of Washington to let users search the transcript of a hearing and find the video that coincides with it.

'This is not voice recognition software, but it uses a database to marry the video transcript with the text,' said a committee staff member who works with the system. 'All we have to do is build an interface with FedNet's site, so there is no hosting on our end.'

Users enter search terms, and the software provides 45-second increments where the term shows up in the video, the staff member said.

'It's important for us to lead by example by embracing new technology,' said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the committee. 'It's our duty to find new and innovative ways to make services more user-friendly across the government.'

This technology had been used on the House floor, and under the Library of Congress pilot, committees will be begin taking advantage of the software, said Scott Kopple, deputy communications director for the committee.

The committee's application of video-to-text technology is a part of a larger overhaul of its Web site, which will be easier to navigate and more comprehensive, Kopple said.


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