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Communities vary on expanding technology usage

3/7/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

GREATER AKRON — While some elected officials in larger local governments are moving to use more technology, not all of Summit County’s smaller communities are seeing a need to put iPads in their budgets just yet.

Summit County Council began using iPads during their meeting this week, and Akron City Council is also looking to go “paperless” and more fully utilize an existing document management system.

Now officials in Green are researching the use of tablets to help streamline city business.

But smaller communities in the region are not yet to the point where they are looking to expand their use of technology.

“We are not going to iPads,” said Springfield Township Fiscal Officer Joy Dies. “That would be kind of an expense.”

She added that the township has made changes in recent years to cut down on its paper usage through sending agendas via email, which the trustees use, and scanning documents.

Tami Stefan, clerk of New Franklin City Council, said the idea of using tablets has not been raised there. The city does have a website and email in place for Council members, she said, although it does not seem that all Council members use it much.

Lakemore Fiscal Officer Tracy Fast said one of Lakemore’s Council members has used an electronic device at some meetings to do research. But the city isn’t likely to expand into using tablets any time soon. She added that all Council members use email, and the city has seen an increase in the number of residents using email to communicate with city officials.

In addition, Coventry Township Administrative Assistant Anna Sawhill said she isn’t aware of any plans to adopt any new technology there in the near future.

Officials in Green are hoping to soon adopt the use of iPads or something similar. Council Clerk Molly Stevens said a committee made up of Council members and city administrators planned to meet for the first time yesterday, March 7, to begin looking into the idea of using tablets to conduct business.

“Our new Council members are tech-savvy and they have their own iPads,” she said. “I have to turn everything to a pdf [portable document format file] and send it to them. On the side I’ve been looking into the whole process, and it is a process. You don’t just one day [start] using iPads.”

Stevens said she’s been in touch with the clerk of Columbus City Council for guidance. That city’s Council members began using iPads a year ago.

Stevens said the committee also planned to discuss possibly using services from Granicus, a company that can supply software, hardware, infrastructure and expertise to governments wishing to use streaming media. The city had considered using the company several years ago, Stevens said, but held off.

“We’re kind of behind the ball, and we would have been ahead of the ball,” she said.

Stevens said at this point there’s no timeline set for Green’s implementation of new technology. And she added that iPads are not necessarily the route the city will go.

“Two [Council members] have iPads, so that’s what they’ve been using and it’s working for them,” she said.

Stevens said the idea of moving toward becoming more paperless is appealing to her.

“It’s kind of exciting,” she said. “My desk is covered with paper, so it would be nice to see it again.”

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