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Odessa leaning into virtual options to keep citizens engaged

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:53 AM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - For all you people who used “time” as an excuse to not be active in local government, well, that’s no longer an option.

The City of Odessa has integrated virtual options into most of its governmental meetings.

That’s become even more noticeable during its town halls about the Downtown Odessa Master Plan.

“We did not want anyone to feel like they couldn’t participate because they’re at work or they weren’t able to make it downtown during the day,” said Devin Benavides, the Odessa Director of Communications. “We realize that there are parameters.”

The city simplifies the process by using a program called Streamyard, allowing it to cast a meeting on social media and quickly monitor comments and questions in real-time, just like if the person was actually at the meeting.

“The level of convenience that is there to be able to have more engagement, more involvement by live streaming them is something that’s really invaluable,” Benavides said.

The result: citizens are playing a more active role in the downtown master plans discussions. The only question that remains is if this option is now a permanent fixture.

“I think so,” Benavides said. “I think this is kind of the way of the world.”

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