MetaCommunications is offering the public an unusual view of downtown Iowa City.
The Iowa City software company launched a new website, IowaCity360.com, that allows anyone online to control two live webcams mounted on the Park@201 building in the Pedestrian Mall.
“The idea came from ... wanting to generate excitement about the area,” said Brian Miller, director of Internet marketing for MetaCommunications. “Part of that is that we want to generate interest in the downtown area, and just provide a resource for people to be able to connect with Iowa City.”
Miller said individuals, such as commuters, University of Iowa alumni or those interested in moving to the area, can use the cameras as a resource to know what’s happening in specific areas of the city.
The high-definition cameras have preset viewing locations, which includes views of traffic moving east and west on Highway 1 and areas around the Ped Mall.
“We’ve made our best effort to make sure there are no private residents that you can zoom up on,” said Miller. “We’ve been very strategic on where we’ve placed those locations.”
Miller, as well as Robert Long, president and CEO of MetaCommunications, stressed that the cameras are not recording, nor do they allow any third parties to record the video. Long also explained that due to the cameras’ preset restrictions, they also are not capable of tracking a specific individual.
“People have had a big interest in it,” said Long, who added that as of Monday the website had had more than 3,100 visitors since the webcams went live on June 5. Visitors to the site can report concerns or abuse via a link below the video streams.
Long said that he had only received one negative comment since the video streams went live.
“We are trying to get involved in the community and do something fun,” Long said. “We want to attract the best and brightest and show them they can have a little taste of a big city right here in Iowa City.”
Simon Andrew, administrative assistant in the Iowa City city manager’s office, said that MetaCommunications did give the city a heads up before putting up the cameras.
“We don’t really have a position on it,” Andrew said. “We think it’s kind of a neat attraction for online.”
Long also said the traffic to the livestreams helps MetaCommunications gain exposure. Eight graduates from the regent universities have been hired by MetaCommunications in the past six to nine months and it plans to hire more.
MetaCommunications received $58,000 from the City Council in February to help it build out office space in Park@201. The two new cameras are mounted on the top of the 14-story building.
Miller said the cameras should not require much ongoing maintenance.
Long said that he could not disclose how much the cameras cost, as some portions of the equipment were donated.