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The Communications Working Group (CWG) met on November 19. Highlights of the discussions include:

Video/Audio recordings – The group discussed the option of using Maryland Municipal Cable (raised by Charlie Challstrom) for training and potentially equipment use to record Town meetings, both Council and special meetings. Audiotaping Council meetings for upload to the website was also discussed. Both of these opportunities raise the issue of accessibility for those with vision or hearing issues. It was agreed that these concerns needed to be fully understood before any further action.

Emergency communications – Sat Amagai, representing the Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC) joined the CWG to share EPC work and lessons learned. He noted that the EPC had sent recommendations to the Council three years ago but no action has been taken. Marida offered to make a renewed effort to have recommendations reviewed by the Council.

Messaging/alert technologies – Discussion of necessity for alert technologies via email, text, mobile apps including Everbridge Nixle (www.nixle.com), a software/app solution identified as an option by the EPC. It has a free version that can be used for community engagement and emergency management.

Email alerts – Long discussion about Town’s inability to send batch emails or send from anywhere but the Town computer. Hence, in an emergency, the mayor could not send out emergency messages from his or her home. Several solutions were proposed. (Since the meeting, we have heard that this issue may have been resolved).

Resident survey – The group finalized the questions for the survey to get resident input on what communications channels and process would be optimal for official communications. The Council “listening sessions” was removed from the survey. Marida suggested she make a motion to test this concept in the next Council meeting.

NextDoor – The Town has been removed from the larger Gaithersburg-Derwood group and a group for Washington Grove has been created.

Follow-up – Subsequent to the meeting, the survey was deployed and 64 responses have been registered but the number continues to rise. This is a very good response rate.

On Thursday December 6 two members of the CWG attended a Webinar by Nixle.

We continue to follow up with Bill Saar on technology issues, Sat Amagai on emergency issues, and Barbara Raimondo on accessibility issues.

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