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Tablets coming soon to Gainesville council meetings

Council members will use devices to cut down on paperwork

POSTED: July 7, 2014 12:12 a.m.

The Gainesville City Council soon will start swapping out papers and instead swipe tablets in their meetings.

Six tablets were approved in the budget for the council members, totalling $3,250 in an effort to digitize city processes.

“We actually used the tablets in the meeting the first time for our last work session, and I think they did very well with using them in following along during the meeting,” said City Clerk Denise Jordan.

Jordan went through instructions on how to operate the devices at the work session, allowing the council members to become more comfortable with the devices before using them in the council meetings.

“Obviously there’s a tremendous amount of paper that has been used in various reports that have been furnished to the council for review and during an actual meeting,” said Gainesville City Councilman Bob Hamrick. “So this is an effort to control cost and also to sort of modernize communications between each council member and staff.”

Modernizing the process is expected to save two to four reams of paper, Jordan said, in addition to saving time producing the reports.

“We feel confident that we’re going to see at least half-a-day’s savings in terms of time, because it does take time for someone to stand at the copy machine making copies and collating documents and putting together packets,” she said.

The estimates on time are based on the efficiency seen in other communities implementing similar systems.

The new system uses a software called Agenda Manager, which allows the different users in the city government to interface with one another to create an agenda.

“The software allows the departments to enter the information into the software, and then the clerk’s office uses the software to put together the agenda packet,” Jordan said. “There’s no papers going back and forth. There’s no duplication of efforts.”

Under the manual process, departments would create documents and send copies to the clerk’s office, who would go through and make the packets as necessary.

The step in digitizing the process is a way to create instant communication in the city council, Hamrick said, in addition to its cost-saving potential.

“We’re entering the modern age, where it’s more efficient to record and transmit information rather than having to go through the process of preparing and then copying materials,” he said.

Digitizing the process, Jordan said, will allow members to route the documents through the right personnel without wasting time.

“It’s technology in terms of automating the process and not having to wait for that paper trail to make it through to the next person,” she said.

The tablets are expected to enter the council meetings within the next month or two months, Jordan said.


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