Newtown Township

Technology Committee

Minutes of the meeting of May 27, 2008

The Newtown Township Technology Committee met on May 27, 2008 in the lower level meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Edward Lipski, Vice Chairman James Bowe and members Robert Bowers, John Davis, Harry Stevens and Richard Thompson. Also in attendance was Supervisor Michael Gallagher and Township Technology Consultant J. Alan Herr.

Call to Order

Mr. Lipski called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.

Introductions

New member John Davis introduced himself. Mr. Davis has been with IBM for 41 years, specializing in business process modeling. Among his clients are the New Jersey State and New York City police departments.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Bowe moved to accept the minutes of April 29, 2008. Mr. Bowers seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

Presentation from J. Alan Herr, President HPT Systems Inc.

Mr. Herr introduced himself and his firm and gave a brief history of his ten-year affiliation with the Township as a consultant on technology. He provided members with a diagram of the network, outlining the Township’s five servers and their functions. He said that he is in the process of creating an inventory of the infrastructure, which consists in addition to the servers, of 55 workstations and 8 laptops used by police in patrol cars.

Mr. Herr reviewed the functions of the five servers:

  1. Back-up
  2. Office use
  3. Police (Alert)
  4. Financial (AMS)
  5. Docstar

Mr. Herr explained the Docstar system, which scans and stores paper documents. He is not aware of the current retention policy for old document storage. He said that the office workstations use either Windows 2003 or Windows XP. The financial system is an Alpha operating system. Storage capacity is much more than adequate.

Mr. Herr said that he is working with the Technology Department on business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Using the firehouse offices, there are plans in place for both back-up and domain servers. There is a diesel generator for power outages.

Mr. Herr reviewed the Police Department’s current technology and future needs. He briefly discussed efforts to connect with JNET, a Web-based system for linking the state’s justice databases and allowing access to information across all 67 counties. Some police departments in the County are beginning to investigate wireless technology for use in patrol cars. Mr. Herr said that he is not sure what was discussed at the April meeting about the police not being up to date on technology. He will investigate this further.

The Committee discussed possibly consolidating servers, which are on a five-year retention plan. Mr. Herr said that the Police Department would want a separate server to create a security zone, but other consolidations should be investigated.

Mr. Herr talked about the two firewalls currently in use, noting that they are becoming outdated. He is recommending an update with better spam filtering.

The members discussed the use of wireless technology, which is currently only available in the lower level meeting room. It was agreed that the Committee would investigate the possible benefits of expanding the wireless capabilities throughout the rest of the municipal campus.

2009 Budget for Technology: Mr. Gallagher provided members with a copy of a memo prepared for the Financial Planning Committee by the Technology Department and asked for some input. This plan includes:

  • Replacement of 11 PC’s - $22,000
  • Replacement of 1 server - $5000
  • Replacement of switches in 4 remote sites - $6000
  • Purchase of network management software - $5000

Mr. Herr explained that the estimated amounts include labor, hardware and software. The management software would enable the Technology Department to easily produce and monitor inventories and servers and remotely control workstations.

Mr. Bowe said that the current five-year replacement plan, and items for replacement in next year’s budget seem reasonable.

In response to questions from members, Mr. Herr said that he is reviewing the current licensing. Proofs of purchase are being gathered to create an inventory of licenses. Excel, Outlook and Word are used at most workstations. Open Office could be considered for some departments.

Mr. Herr said that there is not much saving in using State contracts, as these prices are negotiated once a year. Better opportunities for saving are available dealing directly with the vendors. He said that the estimated budget of $2000 per PC is somewhat padded to cover costs of labor.

The members briefly discussed current pricing of PC’s with flat panel monitors, and agreed that a more realistic budget would be $1500 per PC or $16,500 for the 11 scheduled for purchase in 2009. It was agreed that the Committee would recommend this reduction in the budget to the Financial Planning Committee.

Looking ahead, the members agreed to defer any discussion until additional information has been gathered and the members have a clearer understanding of what is being used, how it is being used, and the level of satisfaction. The members hope to have more active participation in preparing the 2010 budget.

The Committee briefly discussed the use of off-site servers. Mr. Thompson said that there is some data sensitivity, particularly in the Police Department.

Mr. Herr noted that there is some resistance to the use of off-site servers for some departments. The Web site is currently being served off-site, and document storage might be another possible area for consideration.

Mr. Herr said that to help the Technology Committee as it moves forward he would provide the following:

  • A complete inventory of technology hardware/software
  • Purchase records demonstrating licensing compliance
  • Network diagram to aim toward evolving in the next year

Network Infrastructure Options for Expanded Municipal Complex: Mr. Herr indicated that it is his understanding that the existing infrastructure and equipment would be moved into the new administration building.

The Committee agreed that hard wires would be more secure. VOIP should be considered. Mr. Herr said that he would provide more information on the existing telephone system to the members.

The members agreed that wireless capability should be planned for, beginning with certain common areas such as conference and meeting rooms, and possibly outdoors in the parking lot for police use from squad cars.

Continued Discussion of Committee’s Goals and Objectives: Mr. Lipski moved to table this agenda item to the June meeting. Mr. Bower seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

The members agreed to continue to communicate with one another via e-mail to set goals. Any requests for information from Township employees or consultants should b made from the chairman to John Boyle, the Township Assistant Manager.

Member Comments: Mr. Bowe said that he has been working with Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director, to investigate on-line registration and payment for Park and Rec courses and programs.

Mr. Lipski moved to adjourn at 10:15 PM. Mr. Thompson seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary