Web Conferencing for Public Meetings
United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Using Technology to Increase Public Participation in Nuclear Regulations
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering upgrades to its emergency preparedness regulations for all nuclear power plants, to protect public health and safety. Changes to these regulations can impact the public and as such are best crafted using a public process with input from all stakeholders. We wanted to hold a series of meetings for the public, utility companies, and state and local governments to ask questions so they could better understand the intent and potential impacts of the proposed regulatory changes. With 104 commercial nuclear power plant licensees in 31 states, traveling to attend a meeting is difficult and expensive for many of our stakeholders. We needed a creative solution to enable all of our stakeholders to attend the meetings – just as if they were there in person.
Using commercial, off-the-shelf web conferencing technology, NRC staff and meeting participants log on to an internet-based conference center. Participants can not only see the presentation materials but also a live video feed of the meeting room with presenters and audience members. Remote participants can also submit their questions over the Internet for the question-and-answer session.
Web conferencing enables remote participants to hear, see, and speak at meetings. In the past, we used teleconferencing to allow people to listen to meetings and voice their concerns but they were unable to see the meeting. Now, anyone with an internet connection can participate as if attending in person.
Web conferencing technology eliminates the need for people to travel—they can participate from the comfort of their office or even their living room! Interested parties can gather in a common location and attend the meeting together, allowing them to discuss the meeting and share input in real time, rather than waiting for an attendee to return from the meeting and provide a report. Many participants reacted positively to the ease and convenience of web conferencing. Furthermore, question-and-answer sessions were easier to manage with questions submitted over the Internet. This great solution allowed us to minimize the cost to our stakeholders while also increasing public participation in the regulatory process.
For more information, email EmergencyPreparedness.Resource@nrc.gov