Newtown Township

Technology Committee

Minutes of the meeting of July 29, 2008

The Newtown Township Technology Committee met on July 29, 2008 in the lower level meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Edward Lipski and members Robert Bowers, John Davis and Michael Horan. Also in attendance were Supervisor Michael Gallagher and Newtown Borough Resident John Leonard.

Call to Order

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

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Davis moved to approve the minutes of May 27, 2008. Mr. Horan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Continued Discussion of Goals and Objectives: Mr. Lipski said that he has followed up on a number of items on the outline prepared at the last meeting. He and Mr. Horan have met with a Police Department representative; he has spoken to Mr. Herr and learned that there is currently no laptop security; he has attempted to arrange to participate in a staff meeting. Due to vacation schedules at the administration building, he has postponed attempts to attend a staff meeting until autumn. He has asked that Mr. Gallagher obtain a staff organizational chart before such meeting takes place.

Security: The Committee discussed existing security. There does not seem to be a clear security policy in place right now. Mr. Horan noted that the Police systems are separate from the administration systems.

The members talked about encryption and about password protections and password management. There was some concern that individual work stations might not be secure. The following questions should be researched:

  • Are there security requirements for logging on to Township operating systems?
  • Does hardware encryption exist ion portable media?
  • What data is on the laptops; what are the laptops used for?

Regarding work station security, Mr. Davis noted that there should be a security policy in place, particularly as computers are replaced and recycled. He suggested creating and phasing in a security policy.

Data Retention: Mr. Gallagher reported that the Township follows the Pennsylvania statewide document retention standards. This standard includes retention of some paper as well as electronic copies.

Web site: Mr. Horan provided a list of Web addresses of all other Bucks municipalities. He noted that only Newtown is at, other municipalities use their names with either .com or .org. He reviewed each Web site for features offered and did not find any to be offering much more than Newtown’s site. No municipalities were offering on-line applications for permits, but Lower Makefield offers PDF’s to be downloaded.

The secretary noted that Newtown’s Park and Recreation Department offers that option for registration for programs. She confirmed that the Park and Recreation Department is keeping track of the number of visitors to the site.

Mr. Horan suggested that use of tracking of number of visitors could be helpful in determining not only the number of visitors to the site, but what they are looking for when they visit. He suggested improving first the traffic statistics for visitors to the site before determining what areas could be improved.

Police Department use of technology: Mr. Horan reported that he and Mr. Lipski met with Detective Charles Palko to discuss the department’s current uses and future needs, and whether the Committee could offer any help or support. The department currently uses J-NET, a County wide system, and Visual Alert, a police reporting program. Currently, officers use a paper form when out in the field to report any contacts. The information from the forms are entered into Visual Alert by a secretary back at the station. If the officers had access to either a laptop or some kind of blackberry device, some time and effort could be saved, particularly when the officers encounter repeat offenders. The Visual Alert system also contains information on business owners and parent contacts. The officers who use laptops in the squad cars do make use of an instant message style contact to dispatch information during major events like storms, when many reports come into the Department requiring officer response.

Detective Palko said that the Department could make good use of Wi-Fi if it were available in the area just outside the station house.

Other technology topics discussed with the police department were fingerprint scanning, which is used in Middletown Township and video cameras on squad cars. With the use of video cameras comes a question of storage of tapes.

The Committee agreed to offer any assistance to the police department in helping to evaluate future purchases of video or technology equipment. They would also investigate the total costs of ownership.

Mr. Lipski said that during the meeting they learned that when the police department moved into the trailers, the computers were down for about a week. The Committee briefly discussed a skills development plan for employees and creation of written documentation for simple tasks such as re-connecting printers. Mr. Lipski suggested reviewing the bills from the consultant to see what tasks he has performed and what tasks are performed by members of the Township technology department.

Other Business: Mr. Lipski suggested that item #3 on the Goals and Objectives list, Other Priorities, be discussed at the next meeting.

Mr. Bowers said that he would research the use of traffic video cameras for the next meeting.

Mr. Lipski said that he will be unavailable to attend the August meeting. He will contact Vice Chairman Bowe and poll members in advance to determine whether to reschedule the meeting.

Mr. Gallagher suggested placing a report from this committee on the Board of Supervisors agenda. The secretary agreed to arrange to place Mr. Lipski on the first meeting in September’s agenda, and will help Mr. Lipski prepare a synopsis to be submitted to the Supervisors in advance of the report.

Public Comment: Mr. Leonard said that Newtown Borough has begun televising its Borough Council meetings. These meetings are also going to be available on line. He reviewed costs associated with both the taping and broadcast, which is being done at Council Rock School District’s meeting room by Video Gold.

The members discussed whether Newtown Township should investigate making meetings available on line.


Respectfully Submitted:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary