Vancouver City Council Adopts iPads, Ditches Paper

"Staff time is more efficient - meeting time is no longer ‘out of the office’ time"

By Filip Truta on March 2nd, 2012 18:31 GMT

Vancouver now uses Apple iPads for City Council gatherings and manager meetings in lieu of stacks of multi-page handouts and agendas, not only saving the city a lot of cash, but also improving operations.

Vancouver City Council member Jack Burkman, a former high tech executive, is the brains behind the initiative. He reportedly pushed the City to move away from printing large stacks of paper for Vancouver City Council meetings each week.

Thanks to Burkman, who worked with Council Assistant Amanda Delapena, Council members now receive their paperless packets via an FTP site which they access from the tablet computers.

The program isn’t fully implemented yet, but it’s now common to see Council and City leaders working from iPads at the dais during meetings. All packets are reportedly close to being fully paperless, except for copies printed for citizens attending meetings.

Burkman and Delapena transferred documents from City Hall to Council members electronically. Burkman used his personal iPad as a test device, according to a report via cityofvancouver.us.

“There is already a substantial reduction in amount of paper printed, during the first two months of 2012,” reads the report. “With paperless iPad use in the first three City Council meetings this year, the City has already saved 40% of pages printed. With large multi-page documents and color copies being common for Council meetings, these costs can add up significantly – estimates are for savings of more than 50,000 pages this year. And there are staff time savings as well.”

“The City of Vancouver is changing with the times,” Vancouver officials said. “Through technology use, it’s easier to reach customers, to enhance two-way communication and transparency to the citizens we serve – and ultimately, to maximize City staff efficiency.  Our goal with technology is to make more information available for self-service by customers and staff.”

The city has 54 iPads spread mostly among three groups, and pays about $43 per month per iPad in monthly charges for unlimited data plans and even less for limited plans. Previously, the city paid approximately $71 monthly per Blackberry device in access fees.

“The City [now] saves $336 per year per device for those employees that turn in their blackberries for iPads,” said Vancouver officials. “Staff time is more efficient - meeting time is no longer ‘out of the office’ time.”
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