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By GCN Staff

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Boston tries Hangouts for budget hearings

The Boston City Council is testing Google Hangouts as a platform for remote testimony on the mayor’s proposed budget, hoping  to increase transparency and include more feedback from residents. During each hearing, up to 10 people can testify through the Google app.

Hangouts is the Google’s messaging application that lets users make voice and video calls. In order to use Hangouts, users need a microphone and camera on their computer, laptop or smartphone and have to sign into their Gmail accounts -- or sign up for one. Users of the Hangouts option will have to sign up with their name and contact information just as if they were to testify in person.

Boston has been a frontrunner in using digital tools for civic engagement. Last year the city’s Office of the Parking Clerk began letting out-of-towners use Skype to appeal tickets they’d received. Two-way video is also used in Pima County, Ariz., where the Development Services Department offers a remote inspection program through Skype for clients that need building inspections done quickly or at a specific time. 

Posted by Derek Major on May 06, 2016 at 2:09 PM


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