Dubbo saves with new technology

Dubbo City Council has spent about $9000 on nifty new iPads for councillors in a bid to save ratepayers money and reduce its impact on the environment.

The computer tablets will cost about $3200 to run each year after the initial outlay but they will replace older-style machines the elected representatives already have for use at home.

The purchase came as the council also embarked on a plan to all but cease printing its meeting agendas and business papers.

Together the two policies could deliver "thousands of dollars" of savings each year by eliminating spending on materials and staff needed for printing and distribution, council staff contend.

They print about 45 sets of business papers each month and deliver them to councillors, staff and media outlets, according to a report to a council committee.

The finance and policy committee meeting this week revealed how far the embrace of technology had advanced.

The comrades brought along their new gadgets to the chamber, using them with varying levels of ease.

The Apple-brand tablets were even used to display the draft policy for the provision, operation and management of corporate iPads for councillors and business paper delivery.

Under the policy, "security... must be treated seriously" by councillors.

Staff would be able to remotely delete the entire contents of the tablet if it were lost or stolen.

Councillors would receive an individual iTunes account, but they would have to foot the bill of any "personal music or apps".

The committee endorsed the draft policy, which will go to today's council meeting for a final decision.

Committee chairman Allan Smith said the new technology would provide cost savings and efficiency gains in the distribution of correspondence, business papers and communications with councillors.

"The proposal to deliver all business papers electronically will be a significant cost-benefit to Dubbo City Council," he said.

"The overall cost of (council's current) printing, including staff time, and the delivery of the business papers is high, with this cost to be negated by the introduction of this new technology.''

In making the switch, the council is working towards meeting its environmental management plan (Dubbo ALIVE) target to reduce its paper usage by 10 per cent from 2007/2008 levels.

A recent report indicated it was well on track and this month the council also participated in National Recycling Week activities to further encourage positive behaviour.

faye.wheeler@ruralpress.com

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