The Open the Room Project reports on the first generation of products and services that use 100% automation to shoot and stream local meetings, events and sports.

The Open the Room Project will provide community journalists, citizen activists and town administrators with step-by-step directions to build a scalable, affordable system for streaming public meetings and events.


The project was inspired by citizen activists who are building online communities by broadcasting town council meetings via smartphones to Facebook Live. Our work is the culmination of a 2016-2017 fellowship with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Open the Room solutions include automation that negates the need for traditional broadcast television equipment and crews.


We address the following realities with Open the Room:


  • There has been a profound decline in citizen involvement in local communities. Voting in local elections in non presidential years is less than 20 percent.

  • Local journalism is suffering financially due to the shift to digital distribution of content. One consequence is fewer reporters available to cover local governments and meetings.

  • Consumers cutting the cable cord reduce the amount of funding available to support local access channels and their staffing, which historically cablecast city and town meetings.


We’ve highlighted emerging technologies that will allow users to cover more local meetings and events -- even local sports -- with better than acceptable video and audio quality at a much lower cost.  Local journalists, activists and town administrators can engage with residents to create highly targeted community groups using the same social media techniques as major media outlets, celebrities and sports stars.


Effective use of social media, coupled with these technologies, can open auditoriums and meeting rooms -- and playing fields and gyms -- bringing residents together to build robust local online communities.


The ultimate goal of our project, as Aaron Burr sings in Hamilton, is to help every local citizen be in “the room where it happens.”

Click the link at the top of the page to read the latest draft of the Open The Room Project report.

Community Government Meeting