Newtown Township

Technology Committee

Minutes of the meeting of March 30, 2010

The Newtown Township Technology Committee met on March 30, 2010 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Chairman Edward Lipski, Vice Chairman Anand Shukla and members Michael Horan and Jon Schnell. Also in attendance were Supervisors Michael Gallagher and Jerry Schenkman.

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

Approval of Minutes: Mr. Shukla moved to accept the minutes of February 23, 2010. . Mr. Lipski seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mr. Horan abstaining.

Microsoft Producer: Mr. Schnell demonstrated a sample Board meeting using Microsoft Producer, explaining that the product provides a template for showing the audio/video and slides. Documents can be linked to the video. Looking at the meeting agenda, a user could go directly to the portion of the meeting at which an agenda item is addressed. Minutes of the meeting could also be linked to the agenda, so that, for example, a user could go directly to discussion of a certain land development, hear and see that discussion and go to the motion in the minutes to read the conditions attached to approval. This is the method used in Upper Makefield for viewing its meetings on the Web.

Mr. Gallagher said that the Township has a Nexus system as part of its video broadcast equipment. This equipment can be used for a similar method of presentation, although an employee of the Township has not yet been trained to use it. This system can also incorporate specific documents, such as maps, plans or bills lists, into a presentation.

Mr. Schenkman suggested that a committee member attend a Board meeting in the video booth to learn more about the existing capabilities and the skills needed to expand the current use of that equipment.

Mr. Schnell noted some sound difficulties on recent meeting broadcasts. The members discussed possible solutions to the problems the Board is having with the microphones, which must be turned on each time a member speaks.

Mr. Horan said that he would research solutions, including voice activation of microphones.

Mr. Schnell and Mr. Lipski each said they would attend an upcoming Board meeting to learn more about the video booth. They would also contact Upper Makefield about the process they use for posting meetings on the Web.

Paperless Office: Mr. Shukla reported that he had contacted John Davis of Doylestown Borough after reading that Doylestown was “going paperless” to save over $40,000. Mr. Davis said that the effort was started by the Doylestown Environmental Advisory Council. Within the office, and among certain members of committees, boards and commissions, SharePoint is being used, as is Google calendar. Doylestown Borough had been making 250,000 copies each year. Copies are still being made, but the copy machines are set to double sided copies, unless that is specifically overridden. The effort had been started primarily for environmental, not cost saving reasons. Mr. Davis had indicated that the effort has been somewhat successful within the office, but the effort has not been extended to the public yet.

Mr. Lipski said that it would be difficult to be completely paperless in Newtown without making use of the Web site to post forms and applications. The Committee would need to learn about the forms used by the Codes and Zoning Department and the tax office. It would be necessary for the Committee to evaluate the Web site’s capabilities.

Mr. Schenkman said he would speak to the Township Manager about this. It might be necessary to meet with Alan Herr and Beth Leone as well. He said that there is an upcoming PSATS convention in April at which vendors display products including software used by municipalities. It is possible that some of the technology being considered is already available as a package.

Mr. Horan said that Council Rock has made an effort to dramatically reduce paper use among staff and students. Most correspondence with parents is now via e-mail, most forms are available on the District Web site, and rather than distributing printed flyers, information for each school is posted in “E-Friday Folders.” It is up to students and parents to check these folders for school information. In his department, Athletics, all forms and athlete information packets are on line.

Mr. Shukla asked Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Schenkman to provide the Committee with information on Township spending on copiers and paper. It is difficult to know whether there is room for savings unless those numbers are known.

Mr. Gallagher pointed out that there has been some savings realized by the move to the new building. The number of needed copiers has been reduced and one central copy/mail area has been established.

General Discussion: The members discussed the concept of “cloud computing” and its usefulness in the municipality in the future.

Mr. Horan moved to adjourn at 9:00. Mr. Shukla seconded and the motion passed 4-0.


Respectfully Submitted:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary