iPads in order for borough council

By on September 18, 2013

By:

GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent klingerglobal@gmail.com

, Staff Writer



Ephrata Borough Council members display the iPads they are now using to improve efficiencies. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Members of the Ephrata Borough Council have taken a technological leap to going paperless thanks to the technology of Apple iPads.

Earlier this year, the borough purchased 16 iPads at an approximate cost of $500 each for the members of borough council, along with key staff members, to reduce the use of paper and improve efficiency. The new technology has been used for the past several months, completing the transition time expected ahead of schedule.

"This technology allows enough space for council members to store a whole year’s worth of paperwork from council and committee meetings," explained borough manager Bob Thompson. "This is changing the whole way we do business."

Thompson calculated the cost savings in terms of paper and labor. When counting the number of committee meetings per month, times the number of committee members, fellow council members and staff and add the time required to print, copy, collate, staple and distribute copies, the savings begin to mount.

The use of iPads save the amount of paper and labor used to distribute reports and saves in postage required to send the documents through the mail. With iPads, as soon as a report is completed, it is posted on a secure server and available to authorized council members and staff for review.

"Revisions and late requests could equal all kinds of paperwork and effort to redo and redistribute," added Thompson. "Now those changes and revisions are instantaneously and immediately available."

Through use of a product called Dropbox, an Internet based storage application, authorized users set up an account and are invited to file share. All that is required for members to access the report is Wi-Fi access. While the technology may appear simple, Thompson and Hertzog said proper security protocols were in place to prevent the unauthorized access to those files. However, they pointed out that most of the files in question are all public documents anyway.

Thompson and borough council president Dale Hertzog said the idea of taking the borough paperless evolved through the example set at the Ephrata Public Library where director Penny Talbert lead the way.

Hertzog congratulated the council on the manner in which they had embraced technology.

"Everyone has done a great job making the conversion and embracing this technology," commented Hertzog. "We conducted special training sessions at the library to help everyone understand the iPad and they all picked it up rather well."

Hertzog said that perhaps the reason for the smooth transition because it makes conducting borough business remarkably efficient and it saves time. Rather than having to thumb through countless piles of old reports, some of which may have been updated and edited, now members can access the very latest, most accurate and most up-to-date version of each report, all without wasting time or paper in the process.

"The use of PDF Notes allows us to highlight and comment on the electronic copies as if they were paper," noted Hertzog. "This allows us to preview the documents and add notes for use while in session."

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, please visit their website at ephrataboro.org. The public is always welcome to attend council meetings and committee meetings, where they can observe first hand how technology has streamlined the work of local government. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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