On today’s show we’re going to do a deep dive on a technology tactic that has been very effective for us.

If you are new to a market, you have a hard time developing the relationships and getting a deep local knowledge of what is happening in a market. You have a hard time getting to know the city councillors, the key people in the planning department, and the mayor.

You might be developing your zoning application, but with next to zero knowledge of where various members of city council stand on specific issues.

These meetings are usually recorded video conferences. They’re slow moving formal meetings with lots of procedures. There will be a roll call at the start of each meeting. The first several minutes of each meeting will be a review of the agenda, an introduction of the attendees, and a series of guidelines for how the meeting is to be conducted. These meetings can last anywhere from one hour to eight hours. There is a wealth of information contained in these meetings. Imagine if you had been in attendance at all of the city council meetings over the past year, or if you had been in attendance at all of the planning and zoning meetings over the past year. You would be much better equipped to submit your zoning application if you were armed with the experience of attending all of those meetings. You would know which city councillors are likely to object. You would learn what the effective arguments and counter arguments would be. You would also learn which arguments are likely to fail or be outright ignored.

But unless you take the time and listen to those days of meetings, you would be at a distinct disadvantage to know the issues and opinions of the various committee members.

Let’s say that you’re looking for relief on the height of your building. The zoning might limit your project to 40 feet and you need 45 feet to build your project. How do you know when and where the city has dealt with issues relating to height over the past two years? Do you really want to take the time to listen to two years of city council meetings in order to become an expert on heights?

You could hire a consultant who speaks regularly with people in the planning office and who is a paid lobbyist to influence city council members on behalf of developers on various projects.

These high priced consultants have assembled knowledge based on extensive involvement in the planning process over a multitude of projects.

What if you, or someone in your own team could accelerate their level of knowledge in a fraction of the time? What if you could zero in on any time the topic of height restriction was uttered in a city council meeting. Even the most highly paid consultant could not effectively amass this level of knowledge.

In our business we have married one of the technologies out of the world of podcasting to accelerate our access to the details of all of the city council meetings. We developed an internal system to effectively accelerate the capture of salient information from these hours and hours of meetings.

If you apply transcription technology to a city council meeting instead of a podcast, you can produce a transcript that is fully searchable.

So now you have a word document complete with time stamps. Let’s say that you’re interested in the height restrictions. You can search an entire 3 hour city council meeting for the word height. Changes are good, that if the word height is being used in a city council meeting, it is with reference to the height of a building. You can go back and see any time the word height was uttered in a city council meeting or a planning meeting in the past several years. In a matter of minutes you’re able to zero in and extract the relevant information by searching every single word that was uttered during that time.

If you’re interest in learning more about this technology, send me an email at info@victorjm.com