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17/10/2021

WATCH: Council meeting suffers perfectly timed technology failure

The software malfunctioned at an inopportune moment.

There was some amusement at a Mid Ulster council meeting last week after web conferencing technology suffered a failure during a discussion on evaluating its effectiveness.

Council official Barry O'Hagan had been mid-way through a report to Mid Ulster District Council's Policy and Resources Committee when the malfunction occurred.

Mr O'Hagan had said Webex software had been 'fairly reliable', seconds before a series of beeps interrupted the feed and resulted in a number of members' screens going blank, leaving Cllr Darren Totten as the last councillor standing.

“You sort of asked for that one Barry, to be fair,” joked Cllr Malachy Quinn when members had returned to the virtual chamber.

The report was brought before council to discuss alternatives to the Cisco Webex system that had been in use for remote council meetings since March 2020.

Some members had expressed difficulties with bandwidth during meetings with Webex and alternative options of moving to Zoom or Microsoft Teams were presented to the council.

Cllr Paul McLean said the options were 'much of a muchness' and said it was important to go with the option that worked best for the majority of councillors.

Cllr Derek McKinney said the Webex system had worked 'fairly well' over the last few months and that changing the system could cause problems.

The council agreed to establish a trial of Zoom software after a number of councillors reported experiencing fewer problems in comparison to the existing Webex software.

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