Four City councillors are test-driving iPads to use instead of paper versions for meeting agendas and notes.
Printing the hard-copy agenda and delivering it to councillors’ homes before regular meetings is costing at least $30,000 a year, said City director of corporate services and community safety David Duckworth.
The iPad won’t eliminate the need for some paper agendas, but it will greatly reduce them as well as wiping out the delivery costs, he said Monday.
Councillors Tina Lange, Nancy Bepple, Donovan Cavers and Ken Christian are trying out basic iPads with cases and styluses. Duckworth said the cost about $600 each.
“We’re piloting it. We’d be looking at implementing it at beginning of next term if it works well,” he said.
“The intent is to save money. A councilor would get an iPad, if the technology works. It’s something we’d implement. The councilor would use it for their term.”
At the end of the term, the iPad would be returned to the City for the next round of elected politicians.
Councillors Nelly Dever, Marg Spina and Arjun Singh already have their own iPads. Mayor Peter Milobar is also trying one out and said the Thompson-Nicola Regional District might be looking at them as well.
The TNRD provides laptop computers for its elected politicians, six of whom are from the City of Kamloops.
Duckworth said the iPad is better, because councillors can electronically mark up agenda pages and put digital sticky notes on them.
“The intent is to reduce costs, improve functionality, make it more efficient for councillors to find notes and things like that. It’s meant to make it easier for them.”
Milobar said there could be an overlap with the next round of TNRD devices if the pilot shows it’s workable.
“We’re just piloting right now. I know I was piloting an iPad for the regional district. They’re switching over from laptop to iPad. The software’s a bit more refined. And iPads are easier to travel with,” he said.
Milobar said he was offered an iPad as a member of the B.C. Transit board, but he had no reason to accept it with the City and TNRD already looking at the device as an option.
“Over time, the hope is to reduce down the volume of printing and paper.”
Lange, who admitted she isn’t computer minded, said the iPad has been easy to use and she’s finding it easy to jot on her electronic agendas.
“I can sit and write notes on it. To me, that was fantastic. I can’t do that on the laptop,” she said.
She also has a TNRD laptop, but said she’d prefer it if the iPad was set up for both.
Cavers said he has stacks of the old council agendas and he keeps them because he writes notes in the margins.
He also unstaples them to get a better look at some of the information in them, so he is liking the tablet format that gives him the full page view without having to deal with loose sheets.
So far he sees that moving to iPads could be greener, as much less paper would be used.
Singh, who has been using an iPad for years, said he mostly uses the electronic agenda.