Newtown Township

Technology Committee

Minutes of the meeting of March 31, 2009

The Newtown Township Technology Committee met on March 31, 2009 in the fire house meeting room. In attendance and voting were Chairman Edward Lipski and members Mike Horan and Jon Schnell. Also in attendance was Township Supervisor Mike Gallagher (late).

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.

Public Comment: Aliya Aslam, co-chairman of the Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC)was in attendance to ask the Technology Committee to consider the needs of the EAC when reviewing the Township’s Web site. She said that the Township currently has a small section on its Web site devoted to the EAC, but she would like to expand this to include a few additional tabs for posting information and news on environmental issues, such as information on hazardous waste collection or recycling. The EAC will also be working with the Township to place a “Green Corner” in the quarterly newsletter with similar information.

Mr. Lipski explained that the Technology Committee is currently evaluating ways to help improve the Park and Recreation Department’s Web site to allow on line registration for classes and camps. Once this first assignment has been resolved, the Committee will begin to consider other ways to help the Township including the Web site. What Ms. Aslam is asking might be relatively easy to accomplish with approval and cooperation from the Township’s Technology Department.

Approval of Minutes: Due to changes in the Committee’s membership, no formal vote was taken on the February minutes. The members agreed to accept the minutes as accurate.

Park and Recreation Project: Mr. Lipski reported that he has met again with the Park and recreation staff and with Beth Leone of the Township Technology Department to discuss the Department’s current use of Access to keep records and generate reports. They will be meeting with Northampton’s Director of Parks and Recreation to learn about their experience using a third party host for both developing and maintaining the site.

Mr. Schnell pointed out that using a third party specializing in such sites would greatly reduce the Township’s risk when holding personal and credit information. The third party could also provide people who can maintain and support certain service levels.

Mr. Lipski said that the Township is currently using Alan Herr as a consultant for its Web site and technology needs. He would also speak to Mr. Herr about providing support for the Park and Recreation site.

The members discussed the advantages to in-house vs. third party development and hosting and agreed that they would need a comparison of costs, information on the upkeep of the site, access to back end data base and credit card issues.

Mr. Lipski explained that the Department is currently using Access as its database. This system is not working efficiently for the current personnel; he would like to see the Department use another database capable of producing the necessary reports.

As discussion continued, the members began to agree that a third party might better serve the Township’s needs. Going forward, the Committee would need to refine its requirements document in order to seek proposals. They will also meet with Northampton and Warminster to discuss their success with third parties and they will attend a Park and Recreation Board meeting for input and additional information.

Recommendations for Technology in Municipal Building: The Members reviewed the floor plans for the new municipal building. They discussed ideas for using certain business meeting technologies at the public Board of Supervisors meetings, so that, for example, applicants for land development could show electronic copies of plans which could also be shown to the television audience, rather than bringing paper copies to an easel. These are difficult for the television viewing audience to see and interpret. Mr. Schnell discussed some Smartboard technology that could be used so that, for example, changes the Board members might suggest could be noted directly and saved. The Technology Committee members agreed to the following suggestions:

  • Include both wired and wireless connections to the Internet
  • Provide public wireless capabilities in main meeting room, hallway outside meeting room, conference rooms
  • Provide a kiosk to connect to Township Web site outside main meeting room and in public area near Park and Recreation reception
  • Netbooks for Board and consultants on dais to be used during Board meetings (can be used to review plans in electronic form)
  • Large screen television for audience to view plans in main meeting room
  • Portable Smartboard which can be wheeled among locations for meetings
  • Teleconference capabilities in all conference and main meeting rooms
  • Projector to link directly to tv screen

Questions still to be addressed:

  • Determine number/location of access points for wireless
  • Determine how far beyond walls wireless will reach

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary