Weatherford Democrat

Local News

November 18, 2011

Hudson Oaks updates technology

WEATHERFORD — Hudson Oaks city council members received training on the latest technology Wednesday night.

The council, along with the planning and zoning commission, will be issued iPads to keep track of agendas, emails and personal comments on upcoming city issues.

While the paperless system is nothing new, the iPads certainly are.

City Administrator Sheri Campbell-Husband said the city has operated on a paperless agenda process for nearly 16 months. Previously, council members used city-issued laptops to keep track of agendas and emails.

While the paperless agenda process has reduced overall expenditures on paper and copies, an upgrade in hardware needed for the council laptops was going to be cost-prohibitive.

“The laptops the city council members were using were more than five years old; well past their recommended useful life and the batteries were all dying,” Campbell-Husband said. “Replacement batteries each cost more than half what a brand new iPad costs the city under the state purchasing contract and the new devices have a much longer life expectancy, so it was the more economical choice.”

During researching the process of transitioning to iPads, the city made a decision to also implement their use in other departments.

“While making this transition, the city is also transitioning to a paperless agenda process for the planning and zoning commission and iPads are also being provided to each commissioner,” Campbell-Husband said.

But elected and appointed officials are not the only ones utilizing the iPads. City staff members have also been seen holding and directing powerpoints with iPads during recent months.

“The audio-visual system in our council chambers has been updated to allow staff presentations to be run through our iPads, rather than through a stand-alone laptop in the room,” Campbell-Husband said. “So each presenting staff member may run his or her own slide show during the meeting, rather than having to have someone advance slides for him or her.”

Campbell-Husband listed numerous other advantages for the transition to iPads for council members.

“The finalized agendas can be uploaded to an iCloud folder from which council members may retrieve them at their leisure prior to a meeting and this process is less prone to electronic malfunction than email,” she said.

iCloud is a data storage system at a central location that allows users to acces information no matter where they are — as long as they have their iPad.

After downloading an agenda, council members will also now be able to keep better track of notes through an additional program on the iPad.

“The iAnnotate software that the council and staff will now use to view the agendas provides council with more adavanced electronic reviewing tools than were available to them in a standard PDF reviewer on a laptop,” Campbell-Husband said. “When they make comments, note questions they need to ask, these are automatically saved in the downloaded agenda on the iPad, making it harder for a council member to inadvertantly lose their electronic notes prior to a meeting.”

Additionally, Campbell-Husband said council members will no longer have to go through the motions of powering-up and logging into a laptop in order to check email, it puts it at their fingertips, which improves the “overall access to the city’s elected officials.”

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