What is the establishment of Vashon’s local cable television channel, Voice of Vashon and the importance of local content in this rapidly changing environment of media?
The Pacific Northwest maintains a deep commitment to local content and dissemination of that content as it enters negotiations with Comcast regarding public access. More interest in local media dissemination and the capabilities to produce local content through the cable television renewal process through King County is evident on Vashon-Maury Islands. Over the next ten years Voice of Vashon should be a active partner on what now has become known as unified communications, the collaboration on communications applications, deployment of technologies, management and financial support; community communications and connectivity are at the forefront of that discussion of partnership.
Vashon-Maury Islands have demonstrated its commitment since the early 1990’s to local access programming both from a local radio and cable TV programming standpoint. VOV needs to follow what has taken place nationwide with increased exposure and transparency to public information as well as educational opportunities and community interactivity.
To conveniently share and deliver not only existing vital, important community information supporting emergency services and King County services, but to increase these capabilities using not only the Comcast network for high-speed broadband communications, but traditional Public, Educational and Government or PEG cable channel dissemination and increased connection to other state operated educational networks such as the K-20 Educational broadband network has to be part of these discussions.
Already, King County and communities like Vashon-Maury Island have experienced increased participation in local civic activities with the number of emails and direct connections via websites and the uses of social media. King County’s Citizen Forums have encouraged participation with community roundtables discussing management and budget, County law enforcement services, and of course economic development.
VOV, through the current renewal process underway in King County can begin to focus on some key aspects for an island community like Vashon-Maury with communications enhancements for educational development through K-12 schools, senior and community center locations, Parks and Recreation centers and public library connections.
Training applications for not only island residents but also for King County employee development via enriching the learning experiences in arts and culture, environmental preservation and in the traditional services for emergency preparedness, community policing and public utilities are integral in this new media discussion.
Whatever media option you look at these days from your home, office, school, car, bus or street-corner can be focused on the three C’s of “connectivity, connectivity, and connectivity”. Connectivity using cable TV and streaming video in analog and digital formats, IP (Internet-based) or broadband delivery (high-speed) for community produced programming and content on Vashon-Maury Islands and to and from off island locales. Connectivity from carriage of Voice of Vashon content currently on Channel 21 on Comcast’s cable system to Video on Demand (VOD) platforms with a guaranteed amount of storage and archived capacity for viewing programming and information anytime, any place.
The interconnection and connectivity to the King County Institutional Network (I-Net) for Vashon-Maury community participation via the library, schools, community and senior centers, VOV studio and other locations, maybe even through a wireless connection to a remote park or new I-Net site. The capabilities which Voice of Vashon radio and television have already demonstrated for important and vital information and the creation of local programming need to be significantly improved for increasing the engagement of the entire community in order to produce new, exciting and interactive information and content.
Technology advancements and capital equipment support should include video cameras, editing software and digital storage equipment and the connection and dissemination equipment necessary for 24/7 carriage and connectivity in order to teach, train and support VOV and the Vashon-Maury community. Discussions have already begun through a countywide community ascertainment process on how to partner with King County, but Vashon-Maury should be recognized for the unique situation of being an island community served only by the Washington State Ferry systems.
This partnership for community and regional communications service support in all realms of county and citizen education, information and government services needs to be explored and enhanced through VOV under this renewal process. This three C’s opportunity for VOV and Vashon-Maury Islands holds tremendous potential for local community communications using the advancing technical resources of Comcast, King County and the State of Washington.
The wide range of new media applications from early childhood learning to senior citizen engagement, from student developed multimedia content to Vashon arts, history and cultural presentations, from emergency radio and video on-site training demonstrations to interactive two-way live discussions via cable TV, broadband, mobile devises are the true opportunities here now and more are on their way… everywhere.
Marc Pease has been a producer and advocate of local community programming for over thirty years. He is Principal of World Pease Media, a production and dissemination company offering production and consulting services to navigate the waters of communications by discovering new avenues of video storytelling for business, organizations and messaging.