Southland council goes digital with iPads

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2013

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The Southland District Council is going digital, with iPads being distributed to councillors and senior management, and reports and agendas being transmitted electronically instead of by post.

Chief information officer Damon Campbell said six councillors had already been given their new iPads, as well as Mayor Gary Tong and five senior management team members.

The remaining councillors will also receive iPads.

The total cost of rolling out the project was $50,000, but there will be some ongoing maintenance costs associated with the iPads and the software, Mr Campbell said.

Included in the project was the purchase of two software programmes, called InfoCouncil and Council Dashboard.

"Feedback from the councillors trialling the software has been good so far," he said.

InfoCouncil allows users to create documents and manage reports, while Council Dashboard is used to distribute and deliver the documents electronically.

There were three major reasons council decided to move to digital reports and agendas, which included the cost of printing, especially in colour, the cost of postage, and the changes to New Zealand Post deliveries.

"We have to distribute agendas at least three working days before the meeting is held, so if we have to post them to a councillor in Te Anau, for example, that cuts down on time we can allow staff to prepare," Mr Campbell said.

They were still deciding the best way to collect and provide minutes from meetings, he said.

The project would be progressively rolled out across all of council's standing committees, including all community boards and community development area subcommittees, the Milford Community Trust and the IT shared service subcommittee.

The first to move to the new system would be the council, the policy review committee, resource management committee, and activities performance audit committee.

Mr Campbell said the project would definitely save council money, with 3.2 million impressions being printed in the 2012 to 2013 financial year, which is one impression per side of paper.

About 800,000 impressions were completed by the governance team, which produces the bulk of the agendas, minutes and reports of the various committees of council and council itself, he said.

Council spent $45,000 on postage in the last financial year, a cost which would be reduced significantly by the fact they would no longer be posting heavy documents like draft annual plans out to councillors across the district, Mr Campbell said.

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