If we learned one thing from 2020 it’s how hard it is to manage online virtual meetings. Finding the right platform that meets all your meeting needs and is affordable was almost impossible. Many found that no one platform had all the features they needed.
This is especially true for local governments and City Councils. The business of governing couldn’t stop when COVID19 changed everything. We heard from our customers and got to work creating a platform that makes your meeting management easier, more efficient and all-in-one.
AV Capture All is excited to announce new products and services to enhance your Meeting Management solution.
Our new Agenda Builder app will bring more efficiency to your meeting management process. Some features include:
Quick and easy creation of Agendas, Packets & Minutes
Fully customizable Templates
Approval tracking for individual Agenda Items with private notes
Related documents associated with Agenda Items
Integration with AV Capture recording & streaming software
We’re also excited to announce two new services – Recorded Media Transcription with Closed Captioning & Live (Real-Time) Transcription with Closed Captioning. Our new services will enhance the experience for hearing impaired constituents. Some features of these services include:
Recorded Media CC
Automatic speech-to-text transcription within minutes of Publishing
Closed Captions displayed in the media player during playback
Transcript file download available
Live Streaming CC
Speech-to-text transcription in real-time
Closed Captions displayed in the media player during the live stream
Advanced algorithms provide >98% accuracy in real-time
The Agenda Builder app and both Closed Captioning services are all included in our Premium subscription. They can also be purchased separately.
Whether your meetings are virtual, in-person, or a combination of both, the AV Capture Meeting Management solution can be easily integrated with any videoconferencing platform to easily capture, manage, and share your meetings online.
Imagine one of the biggest events to happen, like when Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the moon on July 20, 1969, and you couldn’t fully know what was happening because you are hearing-impaired.
Before today’s advanced technology and social platforms, those who could not hear could not participate in those shared cultural experiences.
Closed captions, which refers to the fact that viewers have to turn on captioning, made its debut on March 16, 1980, when network TV channels ABC, NBC, and PBS introduced closed-captioned television shows. For the first time, a TV show’s dialogue and soundtrack appeared as text on-screen as the action proceeded.
Starting with The ABC Sunday Night Movie, Disney’s Wonderful World, and Masterpiece Theatre, a new world opened up for the hearing-impaired. But getting there was a fight, and that battle still continues today.
There are approximately 14 million hearing-impaired people in the U.S and their early fights to be included and have media and entrainment access took years of hard work.
Captioned versions of Hollywood films for deaf people only started to become required under the law in 1958. Television, however, did not follow suit. There was no system in place to provide captions, and finding a solution was not a priority for many in the early TV business. That began to change in the 1970s as advocacy efforts led to early experimentation with TV closed captioning.
In the early 1970s captioning technology became available and was tested at Gallaudet University. By 1979 the National Captioning Institute was formed. Its mission was to provide captions for the deaf and hard of hearing. In 1990, the Television Decoder Circuitry Act was passed that required closed-caption decoders to be built into all TV sets with screens larger than 13 inches — in this case, the decoder was a chip instead of separate set-top boxes.
As closed captioning slowly evolved, technology as a whole was beginning to explode into our lives. Then Section 508 came along. Section 508 became effective August 7, 1998, which stated Federal agencies must ensure that their electronic and information technology be accessible to persons with disabilities. Section 508 requires that each Federal agency consider the needs of persons with disabilities when it procures or uses new electronic or information technology hardware or equipment.
Then came social media.
Captions are no longer seen as useful for deaf people only, but also as a convenience for anyone who might want to watch a video without making noise. A 2016 Facebook survey found that as much as 85% of all video views on Facebook were with the sound off and captions on, and a 2019 study showed that the vast majority of videos consumed on mobile devices are watched on mute.
Now, because of social platforms, closed caption has changed as more and more demanded it. Now all phones and other devices provide closed captioning. Most providers offer customized audio languages, subtitles, closed captions, and now, programs and devices that offer closed captions for videos have settings to change the type size, color, and other aspects of the text on the screen.
Many online video apps have caption-style settings of their own, including DirecTV Now and Netflix. YouTube, which has automatically added captions to more than one billion videos since 2009, recently announced that it was putting automatic captions on live-streamed clips.
Our goal at AV Capture All is to add features and services that make the job of city clerk or court clerk easier and we are excited to offer live Closed Captioning. Live Closed Captioning is a new service provided by AV Capture All, and is included in the Premium subscription. The service enables real-time speech-to-text transcription and captioning for Live Streams delivered by the AV Capture software. Now, customers can Record, Annotate, Synchronize and Live Stream Audio-Only or Audio/Video, while also providing Closed Captioning for those live streams.
As we look toward January 20, 2021, this country will have the first woman elected to the second-highest job in this country. Gender is not the only milestone for Kamala Harris, but she is among a demographic that is making big gains in local and federal government.
In 1917, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, was the first woman elected to Congress. Rankin had campaigned as a progressive in 1916, pledging to work for a constitutional woman suffrage amendment and emphasizing social welfare issues.
One hundred and three years later, a record-breaking number of women have been sworn in to Congress this week, including a historic number of women of color. There are now 144 women members of Congress, surpassing the previous record of 127. Of these lawmakers, 52 are women of color, which builds on the prior record of 48. Women comprise roughly 27% of all lawmakers, up from about 24% in 2019.
The harbinger of this might be the 2017 Women’s March that set the stage for the historic victories in state and local races that women in 2018, especially minority and LGBTQ women, scored. Numerous large cities now have a woman serving as mayor for the first time.
Polls have shown that women have become much more engaged in politics since the Trump inauguration, and that’s a good thing.
As of 2020, women make up 51% of the U.S. population but only account for 23% of Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Women make up 20% of mayors of cities with a population over 30,000 and 19% of the 100 largest cities in the United States.
While progress has been made, women continue to face barriers to getting elected to an office such as financial means and family responsibilities which make full participation in all levels of government more challenging. For a woman to rise in the ranks in the federal government, which can take decades, she would need to enter Congress around 30 years old. And because of the incredible cost of a campaign, she would have to be in politics for several years before that to be able to raise the necessary campaign funds to compete. Many of the earliest women in Congress were independently wealthy and funded their own campaigns but none, however, became committee chairs.
Women’s political and socio-economic status improves when women become more involved in decision making and policy development at all levels of governance. However, women are underrepresented in most elected and appointed positions in local government in the United States.
Women are also underrepresented in important appointed positions in local governments, with little evidence of improvement over the last three decades. Of these, the city manager position stands out as particularly problematic.
In 1981 women were 3% of city managers; this number increased to 11% of city managers in 1986. But in 1999, the share was still 11% and had increased to only 13% by 2014.
Chief administrative officers (CAOs) follow similar patterns: While the share has increased dramatically from 1.3% in 1974 to 14.4% in 2012–2013, women are far from parity in the position. While earlier work addressed women’s representation in the county supervisor position, which have broad powers and control local resources, we know almost nothing currently about women’s representation in these positions. Research on women in public service more generally argues that women face particularly high barriers when seeking positions higher up in the hierarchy.
For decades, the school board was the only option for women to join positions that held power. Women make up approximately 44% of school board members, which is far higher than any other major group of political leaders. That’s changing.
In 2018, more women were elected to Congress than at any time in our history.
It is no surprise that research on women in elected office is lacking. But comparative research finds that in cities with higher levels of incomes, education, and women in the workforce, have higher levels of women in elected office.
“After this election season, the face of our politics will be changed for the betterment of our communities and our government,” said Higher Heights CEO Glynda Carr, in a statement. “Make no mistake: Black women’s energy, work and commitment to building a true democracy is continuing to diversify and improve America’s leadership.”
The new class of lawmakers this year also includes multiple notable firsts: Former Tacoma, Washington, Mayor Marilyn Strickland is the first Black and Korean woman elected to the House, and organizer Cori Bush is the first Black woman Missouri has elected to Congress. Strickland as well as California’s Michelle Steel and Young Kim are the first Korean American women that have been elected to the House.
In a shift that was hard to predict even a few years ago is how much influence Black women would have n the last few election cycles. This voting bloc pushed Joe Biden, the Democrat’s candidate for President, to name a black woman to the ticket.
Black women’s overwhelming support for the Biden-Harris ticket—an estimated 90%—is the reflection of a decade of on the ground activism. Inspired by Harris’s nomination and election, women will continue to pursue their interests and ensure that their voices are heard.
For Black women, their voices have been getting louder and louder over the years. In 2008 and ’12, Black women voted at the highest rate of any race and gender subgroup. Their votes—96% of them—played no small part in the reelection of President Barack Obama in 2012.
And in 2020, this voting bloc elected the first Black woman to be the Vice President of the United States. An accomplishment that now makes possible the likelihood of a woman being elected President.
A mere six months after identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus as the cause of Covid-19, scientists are on the precipice of having a vaccine to fight it. Moderna and Pfizer will be rolling out vaccines that could save millions of lives. On Dec. 10, the FDA will review Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use. A week after that, Moderna will get reviewed.
What makes that remarkable is under normal circumstances, vaccine approvals are measured in decades, not months.
The speed of vaccine approval is, in part, a reason why some Americans are unsure if they’ll receive the vaccine. The rollout has been haphazard and not traditional leaving many with questions and not a lot of answers.
One of the questions is: will businesses require employees to get vaccinated?
Will it be legal for your employer to require vaccination? University of California law professor Dorit Reiss who has spoken on legal issues surrounding vaccines since 2013 says the short answer is yes.
“Employment in the United States is usually ‘at will,’” said Reiss. “Your employer can fire you pretty much for any reason. They don’t like your shirt? They can fire you.”
This week the Department of Defense released images of what the COVID-19 vaccination record card will look like. The card will be proof of vaccination to keep in their wallets as part of Operation Warp Speed. Reiss said it will be legal for employers, businesses, or venues to ask for it.
These details, by all accounts, might not be answered until the new administration takes office in January.
Vaccine and Politics
A recent survey by MassINC, a Massachusetts polling group, found that Massachusetts residents are willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine. However, the study finds the comfort level varies across racial and socioeconomic demographics, raising further concerns about unequal immunization.
The survey of over 1,100 residents found that overall, 36% of Massachusetts residents said they will take it “as soon as possible,” and 47% plan to wait until either a few or many people have taken it. And just 7% of participants said they will never take a COVID-19 vaccine. However, questions about individuals’ preferences for when they get vaccinated revealed that Black and Latino’s respondents were less willing to do so right away.
The evolution of Americans’ decision to take the vaccine or not has been in play since Mid-August. At that point, 69% said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available but two months later, it is was down to 58%. And there is a drop among Black Americans who say they’ll receive the vaccine as soon as it’s available.
The share of Americans who say they are likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available is dropping — and the decline is notably more pronounced among Black Americans than among white individuals, according to a new survey from STAT and The Harris Poll.
According to a new survey from STAT and The Harris Poll, 59% of white Americans indicated they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is ready, a decline from 70% in mid-August. Only 43% of Black individuals said they would pursue a vaccine as soon as it was available, a sharp drop from 65% in mid-August. The poll, which surveyed 2,050 people online from Oct. 7 to 10, was weighted to ensure the sample was representative of the general U.S. population.
Overall, 58% said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available when asked earlier this month, down considerably from 69% who said the same thing in mid-August. That change suggests growing concern that the regulatory approval process for a Covid-19 vaccine has been politicized by the Trump administration in the run-up to the presidential election.
“When we’re looking at the intersection of vaccine and politics, everything is exaggerated. It’s not just racial disparities, but health disparities,” said Rob Jekielek, managing director of The Harris Poll. “Black [individuals] are disproportionately less likely to be within 60 minutes of a primary care physician, which also means they’re less likely to get useful information and instead use a hospital emergency room as a primary mechanism for care. They’re also less likely to have insurance.”
The messaging surrounding the vaccines need to dramatically improve because of the need for more than one vaccination.
The CDC and doctors across the country recommend the double-dose shot as your best chance at protection and society getting back to normal.
Every day since users have feared their private information, credit cards and social security number would be stolen. Since the World Wide Web became publicly available that day in August, many groups and individuals have been hell-bent on getting your information and just like computers have evolved over the years, so has hacking.
Laws, however, have not kept pace with the criminal innovations for computer hacking.
Today, the Supreme Court is hearing one of the final steps in the biggest hacking case to come before the nation’s highest court involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), written in the 1980s. The case centers on when an individual “exceeds authorized access” to a computer, as defined by that law.
The CFAA is a piece of legislation instituted in 1986 that internet freedom advocates have described as “the worst law in technology.” The CFAA makes it illegal for computer users to access another computer or exceed authorized access without permission.
The issue with the CFAA is that it’s ambiguous and open to interpretation. And many argue that because it was written before the internet became what it is today, it is a hollow law.
Today’s case before the court involves Nathan Van Buren, a former Georgia police officer, who was convicted of violating the CFAA by searching police records on behalf of an acquaintance. A Georgia court convicted Van Buren in 2017 after a man paid him $6,000 to search through a law enforcement database on his behalf.
The other man, Andrew Albo, was working undercover for the FBI and told Van Buren he was trying to learn if a local stripper was working as an undercover cop.
Van Buren has argued that, as a police officer, he had permission to search the license plate database.
The original intent of the law was in response to concerns that computer-related crimes might go unpunished. The plot twist is that it was a movie that prompted the law in the first place. In the original computer crime bill, it cited the 1983 techno-thriller movie WarGames as “a realistic representation of the automatic dialing and access capabilities of the personal computer.” The movie is about a teenager (played by Matthew Broderick) from Seattle who breaks into a U.S. military supercomputer which was programmed to predict possible outcomes of nuclear war and unwittingly he almost starts World War III.”
At odds with trying to keep our personal information safe is the desire to keep the internet free and open.
A fierce proponent of the open access movement, which promotes free and easy access to the world’s knowledge online, was Aaron Swartz. He was considered a technological genius who took the “free and open” mantra to the maximum. In mid-July 2011, Swartz tried to ‘liberate’ data from an academic website and he was charged with violating federal hacking laws for downloading millions of academic articles from a subscription database service that MIT had given him access to via a guest account. If convicted, Swartz would have faced up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Before the case went to trial, Swartz hung himself on January 11, 2013.
Free and Open
His death sparked the need to add clarifying language to the CFAA. This resulted in Aaron’s Law, named for the lasting influence of Aaron Swartz. Aaron’s Law was introduced in the United States Congress in 2013 but it did not pass Congress.
Congress has, however, amended the CFAA somewhat regularly, with changes occurring in 1989, 1994, 1996, and 2002. The controversial U.S. Patriot Act greatly impacted the CFAA in 2001, and the 2008 Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act also affected the scope of the CFAA.
In 2015 President Obama proposed expanding the CFAA but met opposition because it could potentially make many regular Internet activities illegal.
Despite the many changes, proponents of the failed Aaron’s Law argued that the CFAA is too vague. Because of the wording of the CFAA, users who violate terms of service can face prison time. Another major error in the CFAA is that because of redundancies, individuals can be tried for the same crime more than once under different provisions. These redundancies enable charges to compound and allow for disproportionately severe penalties for those convicted.
At the Supreme Court hearing on Monday, the court’s nine justices seemed to have a range of views on the CFAA. Some seemed ready to accept the government’s broad reading of the statute, while others worried that doing so could criminalize a lot of innocuous online activity.
As we face the holidays and the last few months of 2020, a year most of us are happy to see go, travel is on everyone’s mind.
We are facing a strange combination of Pandemic fatigue, fear of travel, and cities with travel quarantines and gathering restrictions in place. There are still many unknowns right now as many cities are experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases.
For the week starting November 9, 2020, the number of scheduled flights worldwide was down by 46.5% compared to the week of November 11, 2019. However, some airlines are seeing an increase of flights being book and the middle seat being released to book, limiting social distancing options.
But a majority of Americans are not planning to travel this holiday season. According to Destination Analysts, a market research firm, their recent Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Study, a weekly survey of 1,200 Americans, found that only 28 percent expected to travel for the holidays, including both Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the same survey, 53 percent said they had traveled for the holidays last year.
Adding to the uncertainty, many of the largest cities, including most of the Northeast, still have travel quarantines in place or are planning one with the recent spike in cases. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has even urged residents not to travel out of state for the holidays for fear of inviting a wave of coronavirus when they return home. In San Francisco and the surrounding area, city and health officials recommend gathering outside which will help to significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. They’re advising no more than three households participate with a time limit of up to two hours per gathering.
Airlines have been one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic. Flight capacity has been steadily growing over the past month. Southwest Airlines, which has held middle seats open during the pandemic, recently announced it would make all seats available for flights beginning Dec. 1.
Still, scoring a seat without a neighbor sharing your armrest is getting harder, and travelers should prepare for more crowded planes.
In April, $25 billion in payroll grants plus a similar sum in low-interest loans went to the airline industry. Many Americans don’t think the airlines should receive any more taxpayer money. In the years before the pandemic, partly thanks to weak antitrust enforcement, airlines made massive profits. Since 2015, the four major carriers (American, Delta, United, and Southwest) had the best years the industry has ever seen.
Despite that, and the carriers desire to preserve capital for a rainy day, the big carriers paid $42 billion into stock repurchases in the hope of improving their share prices. That was more than the total of their free cash flow — the cash they generated after paying interest, taxes, and maintenance.
This hasn’t generated much sympathy for their hardships now and taxpayers aren’t keen on another bailout that would reward the carriers for egregious overcompensation and share buybacks.
American Airlines, the biggest carrier, poured nearly $13 billion into stock repurchases despite having negative free cash flow. The companies also resorted to massive borrowing, increasing their debt on average by 56% from 2014 to 2019. American’s debt soared from $18 billion to $33 billion.
Airfares for domestic flights in the second quarter dropped an average of 26% from the previous year, according to data from the Department of Transportation, released on a three-month delay and processed by airline analytics firm Cirium. That reduction came as travel demand fell as much as 97% over 2019 levels, before gradually improving to be down about 75%.
Average domestic fares at American Airlines were down 26%, while Delta cut fares 14%. United had one of the smallest reductions, down just 10% over 2019, while Southwest slashed fares by 25%.
Is the Air Better Up in the Air
Air quality inside the plane cabin has always been a concern. And now even more so. According to Airlines for America, the industry’s primary lobbying group that represents major carriers like Delta, American, United, and Southwest, “Onboard, all A4A carriers have aircraft equipped with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration systems and all members comply with or exceed CDC guidance.”
This is reinforced by the International Air Transport Association, the industry’s global trade organization. “The risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is typically lower than in a shopping center or office environment,” says the spokesperson for IATA.
However, not all airplanes in U.S. fleets are HEPA-equipped, some of American Airlines’ regional aircraft, for instance, do not have the filters, so check each airline before booking.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to consider modifying holiday plans to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep friends, families, and communities healthy and safe. For more information about holiday travel from the CDC, click here
Whatever your holiday plans are, being mindful of your surroundings, wear your mask, wash your hands often, pack a lot of hand sanitizers and maintain social distancing as much as possible.
This time of year, we see parents and kids planning for the new school year, doing back to school shopping, getting school supplies, and planning schedules.
This year however there is a new element that parents and kids need to plan for because of COVID-19. Most school districts are planning a combination of in-school and home-school learning, while other districts are going forward with in-school learning only.
Back-to-school anxiety is normal and understandable for kids. Many kids may feel anxious about going back to school after a long summer break. COVID-19 is contributing to increased anxiety and stress levels for this new school year. In fact, many kids and teens are experiencing feelings of fear, anxiety, stress, and uncertainty as they struggle to come to terms with in the pandemic. It’s not uncommon for people—including young people—to struggle with psychosocial issues during outbreaks of infectious diseases.
As of now, there is a lack of information and scientific consensus about the impact that school closures and re-openings will have on community transmission of COVID-19. There is considerable concern about the indirect effect of school closures on students and parents. Nationally, there is no consensus on how schools should run this year.
Most models of school re-opening involve reductions of class size, increasing physical distance between students, and keeping students in defined groups with limited interaction between groups to reduce the potential for wide-scale transmission within schools.
Most districts that have re-opened schools have instituted some degree of in-school and home-school learning. For some schools that are doing in-school learning, they have staggered the start, stop, and break times within the school. Some districts are using alternate shifts (morning, afternoon) or alternate days, while a smaller number of countries have maintained relatively normal school schedules.
Some districts have re-opened schools only for younger or older students to accommodate the increase in resources (classroom space, teachers, etc.) required for smaller class sizes. And some districts have re-opened only for younger students.
As we start to observe and detail the health and socioeconomic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, some profound consequences are beginning to emerge. Social isolation and the unknowns are taking a toll on children. The ‘new normal’ is harder for some to adjust to, especially not know how long this will last or if it will be the way of life from here on. For kids this is particularly hard because they need consistency and routines.
And while children have not suffered from the direct effects of COVID-19 infection like older adults have, there is mounting evidence that their health and welfare are being adversely affected.
The debate to reopen schools or not is playing out with no clear answers and our kids are noticing. The stress of going back to school, performing at the required level, worrying about getting sick themselves or their family, and absorbing the stress from their parents are all factors our kids are facing.
Signs of Anxiety
When kids are anxious, they may not know how to put their feelings into words so it’s important that parents know how to recognize the signs of anxiety. Here are some common indicators that a child might be anxious.
Displays changes in eating and sleeping habits
Has bouts of unexplained crying
Complains of stomachaches
Struggles to concentrate
Appears more clingy than normal
Gets upset or angry more quickly
Expresses negative thoughts or worries
Appears restless and fidgety
Here are some tips to establish routines and help ease your kids’ stress:
Talk about it. Ask your child what he or she is worried about if they show concern, and talk about the fun and exciting things that will be happening throughout the school year.
Stay positive! If you show enthusiasm for what the new school year brings, your kids are sure to pick up on it, and the nervous energy will turn into excitement.
Get back on schedule. Before the school year begins, start establishing the “school year” bedtimes, and wake children up at the time they will be getting up for school. Also, eat meals on a more regular schedule before school starts.
Don’t over-schedule your child or family. Also, include your child in decisions regarding what or how many activities they are involved in. Ask him or her how much they can handle in addition to schoolwork.
Set expectations. Go through expectations ahead of time about getting dressed, eating breakfast, and appropriate grooming so that everyone gets out the door on time.
Stay involved with your child’s school and have regular communication with the teacher – even if it’s over email. Stay on top of how your child is doing academically, socially, and behaviorally.
Get organized! Establish a family calendar where all after-school events and important assignment due dates are easy to spot. Prepare school bags and clothes, arrange books and school supplies on shelves or in boxes or drawers, organize all paperwork by priority, and make a single to-do list of all the tasks you need to complete each day.
Plan the homework load. Make a plan for where and when homework will be done. Is it always done at the kitchen table right after school, or is there a desk your child uses and homework time will be after dinner? Stick to a schedule so it’s always part of the evening routine.
By taking some basic precautions, this school year can be safe and productive.
For more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), click here http://bit.ly/CDC_School_guidelines
As our federal government negotiates the next coronavirus stimulus package, the pandemic is exacerbating inequities across America, especially in housing.
State and local governments face a devastating financial picture with millions of dollars lost in revenue as commerce halted in March, April and May. But what is coming next with the housing market is unprecedented.
The next massive hurdle Americans are facing is housing evictions. The eviction moratorium was recently lifted and landlords across the country, who could potentially default on their own mortgages, could evict tens of millions of renters amid a stalled economy.
Mortgage rates have spiraled downward as economic news has gone from depressing to disastrous. The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped on August 4th to a stunning 2.81%, according to Mortgage News Daily.
“I don’t think people realize the massive effect COVID19 is having on our housing and economic markets, and what the trickle-down effect of that will be. Not only is the rental market affected, but the single-family housing market and the economy as a whole is also looking at a catastrophic situation,” says Summer Johnson, senior mortgage officer for Washington State Employees Credit Union. “We are facing the 90-day mark and evictions of those out of work will be another major factor contributing to a financial crisis that will affect other industries.”
The residential construction sector is a part of the trickle-down effect. The forecast for global construction growth in 2020 has been revised from 3.1 percent down to 0.5 percent. The construction supply chain has been highly impacted, generating project slippage and/or extra costs.
For renters, the outlook is grim. According to analysis from Stout Risius Ross, an investment consulting firm, almost half of the rental tenants across the country are in danger of being served eviction notices. Low-wage workers and people of color are especially vulnerable.
The pandemic is exacerbating inequities across America, especially in housing.
For homeowners, about 8% of mortgages are currently in forbearance. This summer is one of the best times for home buyers and the worst for many renters.
Another trickle-down effect is on revenues local governments collect from housing. If renters are evicted, there’s no revenue coming in for water and utilities. Local governments collected $509 billion from property taxes. This was is the largest single source of tax revenue. Taxes on homes, land, farms, and other forms of real estate make up an important revenue source for state and local governments.
Property taxes were the leading category of revenue for state and local governments, yielding 34% of tax collections. Property taxes help finance local government services, especially education. Indeed, property taxes directly targeted to education funds alone are responsible for approximately one-third of local education financing.
Losing these revenue streams puts a further burden on local government’s ability to provide services on which citizens rely. One of those services is the mandated public meeting local governments must do. Keeping citizens engaged and informed is more important than ever.
AV Capture All provides platforms for local governments to live stream public meetings at an affordable price. AV Capture– Legislative Solution is used to record Audio and Video while integrating Agendas, Minutes, and Related Documents. The document content is synchronized with the Audio/Video stream, then indexed and immediately searchable when published online. Once published, staff and citizens can view any part of the Audio/Video-on-demand, while following along with the synchronized Agenda, Minutes and Related Documents. Live Streaming is also integrated into the platform to allow staff and citizens who cannot attend the meeting in-person to view online from home.
AV Capture All is here to ensure the gears of government continue to work and the public is informed.
As we now enter the 6th month of quarantine and social distancing, our cell phones have been a lifeline to keep us working, in touch, informed, and provide a level of security.
For local governments, this has put a strain on their wireless bandwidth as more business is conducted via wireless phones, tablets, and laptops. As city governments adopt a virtual council meeting environment, either in whole or in part, being able to keep connectivity with citizens, has become crucial.
What has quickly become clear is that many local governments are facing how to keep up with the technology demand by going virtual. Smaller local governments do not have the bandwidth necessary to work remotely and provide all the services mandated.
This is highlighted by recent events and political protests that typically overload available capacity on cellular networks. To add to the stress on cellular towers, sudden peaks in data usage that takes place in disasters and crowed events further causes 3G, 4G, and LTE cellular networks to fail.
Public safety and emergency management are critical functions of the state government. In response to emergency and disaster events, access to reliable communication is vital. In emergency events, cellular network operators (such as AT&T, Verizon, and more) request, “Customers to use text or email to free up voice capacity for public safety officials on the scene.”
Because current telecommunications networks simply can’t cope with the massive increase in call volume in a disaster or crowded event, first-responders and those in public safety and emergency management must be prepared to use alternative forms of communications.
Simply put, mobile wireless networks become unreliable during and after a disaster or emergency situation. There are several different places where congestion can happen. Networks consist of different technologies, different levels and different mobile switching centers that may cover a large area.
But help may be on the way.
The newest generation in wireless networking is called Fifth generation (5G) wireless technology and it can open the door to transforming and enhancing public services right at the time we need it most.
The fifth generation of wireless networks represents a major boost in both capacity and speed that will help ease the burden on current systems and offer vital improvements to public services. But this technology is both costly and controversial even as states and local governments begin to legislate and regulate around 5G.
It is hard to imagine how a business or government will survive without access to the technology we need to stay connected and informed. Virtual meetings have become essential to keep businesses and governments running. As we look into the future, it is evident that investing in building strong communication networks, in particular 5G, will be as crucial as ever to American safety. Fifth generation wireless technology has the potential to reboot how the U.S. government achieves many of its critical missions.
5G Benefits State and Local Governments
When any city faces an emergency, they must quickly communicate with the public. When you factor in the current virtual environment, more and more devices are consuming more and more data which can strain bandwidth, slow services, and drop connections.
The potential upside to greater capacity and network speed is huge. Surges in cellular network use during emergency events are less likely to slow or prevent vital communications between citizens and first responders. 5G will be the underlying infrastructure to help usher in fully autonomous vehicles, intelligent public safety cameras, and connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices used throughout city infrastructure. Jurisdictions with 5G networks are likely to attract tech-savvy residents and businesses that leverage those connections for new digital business models and reach new customers.
However, none of this happens without the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) streamlining unnecessary regulatory roadblocks to small cell deployment, as well as keeping its vital spectrum auctions on schedule.
Every local government has to decide how to direct general expenditures. Education and police top the list, followed by healthcare, transportation, and roads. An issue that all state and local governments are currently facing is a substantial projected budget shortfall in revenue because of closures due to COVID19.
State and local governments spent $193 billion on law enforcement and corrections in 2017. Local governments were responsible for $129 billion, or two-thirds of that spending. Law enforcement spending ranks behind education ($684 billion) as the second-largest spending category for local government budgets.
According to USA Facts, governments in America’s largest counties tend to spend more money per capita on law enforcement than smaller counties, according to data compiled by the US Census Bureau.
Local governments spent on average $340 per person on law enforcement in 2017. That represents 9.2% of all spending, but priorities differ in counties of varying sizes and demographics.
The 9.2% of all local government spending is a fifth of what’s spent locally on education (48.6% of spending or $2,106 per person). It’s also more than twice that of public health (4% or $174 per person).
In the 25 most populous counties, local governments spent $573 per resident on law enforcement – which includes both police services and corrections. In the next 303 most populous counties, all with at least 200,000 residents, law enforcement spending stood at $388 per person.
For the next largest state expenditure, public education, spending per pupil ranges from $7,486 in Idaho to $23,091 In New York, the highest tally of any state, followed by the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Vermont.
Local governments spend far more of their budgets directly on elementary and secondary education than states. In 2017, 40% of local direct general spending went to elementary and secondary education compared with less than 1% of state direct spending.
Only in Alaska, Hawaii, Kentucky, and New Jersey did state governments deliver 5% or more of direct K–12 spending. Hawaii was an outlier because the Hawaii State Department of Education operates public schools and thus 100 percent of its direct educational spending occurred at the state level.
Overall, the United States spent $13,025 per pupil in 2017. Among the states, New York spent the most per pupil ($25,288), followed by Wyoming ($20,255), New Jersey ($19,364), and Vermont ($18,755). These states also generally had the most per capita spending in 2017.
One of the next highest direct general expenditures is in healthcare. In 2017, state and local governments spent $294 billion, or 10% of direct general spending, on health and hospitals. Health and hospitals combined were the fourth-largest source of state and local direct general spending in 2017 and roughly equal to higher education expenditures. And in 2017, 66% of health and hospital spending went to hospital services and 34% went to other health programs.
According to a Pew Research report on federal data released since the pandemic, education jobs have accounted for nearly two-thirds of the decline in state and local government employment. It is not known how this will recover when school starts again in late summer. Nationally, local education employment has declined by more than 9% since March.