October 4, 2023

Sapiensdigital

Sapiens Digital

Tech updates coming to Gary City Hall | Gary News

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GARY — The historic Gary City Hall will be undergoing some long-needed technology updates. 

During a Tuesday night meeting, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allocating $250,000 of American Rescue Act funds to various improvements including flat screen monitors in the City Council Chambers; better lighting, sound and cameras; and a new control booth and computers.

Council President William Godwin said council members and other city employees may also undergo training to “make the most of that technology.”

The ordinance was originally heard at a Feb. 8 Ways and Means Committee meeting and only allocated $100,000. It was postponed at a Feb. 15 City Council meeting after Godwin said the total cost of all the needed updates may be closer to $250,000. 

Like municipalities across the globe, Gary transitioned to online meetings when the pandemic hit almost two years ago. After reopening the Council Chambers to in-person attendees in November, Gary quickly returned to hosting solely virtual meetings when COVID-19 cases began to rise this winter.

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Godwin said the council has gotten ample feedback from residents saying the current video quality is difficult to understand, making meetings hard to follow. 

“The idea is to make our meetings more accessible, more viewable and of better audio and visual quality given the reality of the hybrid meeting environment in which we operate,” Godwin said. 

Many of the planned updates were already needed before COVID-19 forced the council online, Godwin said, adding that the pandemic “exacerbated” the city’s technology needs. 

Gary was given $8.3 million in ARPA funding. Over the past three months the city has directed ARPA money toward premium pay for city employees, a citywide broadband expansion and digital equity initiative, a youth leadership and job training program and the continuation of the Guaranteed Income Validation Effort, which provides 125 randomly selected, qualifying citizens $500 a month for 12 months. 

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