Newtown Township

Technology Committee

Minutes of the meeting of May 28, 2013

Present: Chairman Kyle Davis, Vice Chairman Bob Penland and Dan Paramesh and Jon Schnell, members.

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

Approval of Minutes: Mr. Davis moved to accept the minutes of March 26, 2013. Mr. Penland seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

New Business: Mr. Davis reported that he attended a Supervisors meeting in May to discuss the direction the Committee would take in the coming year. The Board was supportive of the Committee’s efforts but offered very little feedback.

Cloud Sherpas: Mr. Gallagher said that he, Mr. Davis and Township Manager Kurt Ferguson would have a teleconference this week to discuss the Township’s possible transition to GoogleDocs for document management. He asked the Committee for some suggestions for specific questions and concerns. He is eager to make this change because the costs would be reduced by eliminating need for some of the servers and would allow the Township to use less expensive hardware going forward. Cloud Sherpas has assured Mr. Gallagher that the documents would be secure and all government servers are located physically in the United States. The cost would be about $50 per user per year plus a $2500 transition cost. The transition would include live and web training and tech support.

Mr. Paramesh suggested that the Township discuss business continuity with Cloud Sherpas.

Mr. Penland said that some consideration should be given to off-line usage if the internet is down. He suggested that the redundancy in place for internet connection should be periodically tested. He also noted that there could be some issues with compatibility with older machines.

Mr. Paramesh said that the Township should ascertain who among the staff needs to have access from other locations, such as employees who work from home.

Mr. Gallagher said that he understood that the cities of Boston and Los Angeles have switched to GoogleDocs.

Mr. Schnell said that he was aware of a number of large corporations also making the switch, although there is still a need for some features of Microsoft Office.

Wireless Access: Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to expand the availability of wireless access throughout the building, but would like to do so at minimal cost. He would like access in the community rooms and throughout the Park and Recreation area.

Mr. Schnell said that he would research available routers; he would need to know what is already in place. He felt that wireless could be extended for under $1000.

Social Media: Mr. Gallagher said that the Supervisors have discussed using social media as a way to communicate with residents. The Police and Park and Rec are already using Facebook. It could be helpful in alerting residents of emergencies, road closings, downed trees, etc.

The members agreed that Facebook could be a valuable tool for communicating Township news and business in a timely manner, but suggested that specific employees be charged with posting and that no comments be allowed. This would eliminate the need to monitor the site around the clock for inappropriate comments.

Data Back-up: Mr. Schnell suggested that the Township’s policy reference what is to be backed up and what the schedule is. He suggested that tapes be stored at a bank safety deposit box or in a fire safe on the Township campus.

DocStar: Mr. Gallagher suggested that as the Township considers alternatives to the DocStar document management system, a survey of other municipalities might be helpful. Through BCATO he could contact other Supervisors and Borough Councils to ask for their input.

Mr. Penland suggested using a survey monkey to see what other municipalities use for document management. He might also include questions about whether other municipalities have technology committees and if so, what projects they have been involved with. He would circulate some sample questions among the members.

Members discussed possible areas to include in the survey:

  • Size of technology department
  • Volunteer Technology committee?
  • Multi-year plan for technology?
  • Use of cloud?
  • Document management?
  • On line registrations, permit applications, etc?

Web site: Mr. Gallagher said that he is eager to see the Township’s Web site updated. He is aware of Mr. Ferguson’s plans to include some commercial real estate listings and specs on the site.

The members suggested that long term, the Township should consider on line permit applications and acceptance of on line payments for fees.

Mr. Gallagher said that he would like a site which would be easier to maintain, with some key employees able to make changes, for example the recording secretary and Township Administrative Assistant should be able to post approved minutes, bills lists, etc., and announce any changes or cancelations of meetings.

Mr. Schnell said that an updated look and ability to maintain should be addressed initially, but then the site could add on line permit applications and payment of fees at a later time without difficulty.

Mr. Davis invited the other members to attend the teleconference with Cloud Sherpas if they were available during the business day.

Mr. Schnell moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mr. Penland seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Respectfully Submitted:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary