Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One Company Has A New Idea for Notice Posting

I posted here recently about how cities and towns in Massachusetts are struggling to figure out how they will comply with the 24/7 notice-posting requirement of the state's new open meeting law, which takes effect July 1. The new law requires that notices of meetings be posted "in a manner conspicuously visible to the public at all hours."

Given that municipal buildings are not open at all hours, this would seem to require the notices be posted outside. A simple weatherproof bulletin board would work fine for small towns with few meetings, but larger cities and towns with many scheduled meetings could face problems complying with the law.

Recently, the new Division of Open Government in the Attorney General's office invited public comment on a Notice Posting Proposal suggesting alternative posting methods, including posting on the Web or on local-access TV.

Now, a small Massachusetts company is proposing another alternative, an outdoor, weatherproof, digital display that automatically shows all scheduled meetings and their agendas. The company, Minuteman Digital, was started by the father-son duo of Harry and Ben Forsdick.

What they offer is actually two products. One is the live-display hardware equipped with an Internet connection to transmit the data to the display. The other is proprietary event-listing software that uses a municipality's existing calendar system to send information to the display.

They sell the service as an annual subscription. The municipality can buy the display through Minuteman or provide its own. The basic first-year package (without the display) starts at $900 and the subscription after the first year is $600.

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