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Zoomed Cambridge City Council meeting briefly becomes X-rated

Cambridge Day reports on the council getting zoombombed yesterday.

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So much for the technology innovation capital of the northeast. The city that is home to the biotech companies that might come up with Covid vaccines is the same one that can't figure out something as simple as Zoom... It looks like the good people of Cambridge need to elect a MIT or Harvard grad to the City Council soon.

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Cantabrigians elected that population last election. Sadly, no it didn't help. Maybe CalTech or Texas A&M grads would be better candidates.

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How do you prevent this sort of thing and still keep with the open meetings laws?

When it comes to classes at schools, you can do the invitation only thing and use other tools to control the inputs from the public.

You can't have open meetings where only select people are allowed to join.

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Even in a traditional open meeting at city hall, nothing is stopping someone from getting up to speak only to expose themselves to committee or shouting profanity, something which does happen occasionally. Of course, it's easier for the police to catch them afterwards.

For Zoom calls, you can allow public audio but block public video. That would cut down on the porn. Video could be allowed if the participant explains what they'd like to present and how it pertains to the subject.

You could also make participants provide a phone number and have a staffer call them back to verify the number is valid. Most zoom bombers wouldn't go through that much effort to disrupt.

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If you add on the "webinar" feature to your Zoom account, you can separate out the presenters from the audience. Then for the public participation parts of the meeting, the audience can use the "raise hand" feature then the host can give them presenting privileges so they can address the meeting.

Even in a regular Zoom meeting, you can block profile pictures and keep users from turning on video or screen sharing by default. You can also disable the public chat.

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well not surprising really. I am sure Cambridge City Hall's IT department is doing all it can. I mean as one myself (an IT Person), I can't say I haven't been there myself. There's a HUGE suck for technology right now, and it's taken many of us off guard.

Even my work, where we are mildly inconvenienced by moving to WfH, other than missing being in the same building... its been busy. now EVERYONE wants to use our licenses for Zoom, GTM, and WebEx. So we're constantly juggling that. Lots of questions about setting up home office computers at home, fixing web cams and audio issues. I've even recently started deploying laptops from my 2nd bedroom.

But there's stuff you can do, like you said, to help guard yourself. But nothing is 100% safe, and Zoom has its share of PR-nightmares, to say the least.

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Technology is scary. They know. They see.

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Beginning next week, all body parts have to be covered before tele-testifying in front of the Cambridge city council. Film at 11:00.

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Did anyone else notice that only one of the people facing the camera is actually wearing their mask properly?

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Someone should tell Cambridge to contact BPS.

I'm usually pretty critical of BPS but their technology has really been amazing. They've had Zoom School Committee meetings since the start (without any issues) and then they're giving out something like 25,000 laptops.

Cambridge needs to suck up their pride and look across the river to get some advice.

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Its called many of these cities and towns are cheap.

So is my company. Zoom's expensive, and while I am sure schools and educators are getting a discount, cities and towns probably are not.

I am sure many went online and signed up with a city credit card to get it up and going (remember, we were all taken by surprise), and bypassed the bizdev/sales part of the purchase, which is key to getting better pricing that what is listed on their website.

Zoom Large Meeting and Zoom Webinar are pricey. We're a multi-million dollar a year product and we only have a handful of licenses we have users share.

I think we need to give these towns a break and realize we were all taken off guard by this. And while many cities broadcast meetings on local community access tv, these are usually a fixed setup inside the chambers, not at home. Zoom/'Rona pretty much throws that all out the window.

As an IT person, I can cut them a little slack. I just hope within the coming months it will get better. I think it will as IT folks can re-evaluate these systems and make better choices.

The good news is, I think Zoom meetings are here to stay. It does provide an opportunity for people to attend who could not in person. As someone who has done alot with transit and the public process, the most common complaint is that "its inconvenient to go", this solves that. Many meetings take place during the day, I could see myself booking an hour out of my workday to sit thru a zoom board meeting. Sure beats disappearing for 2-4 hours (commute, etc)

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