MIDDLETOWN, NJ – The Middletown Township Committee has embraced a new technology trend that’s saving trees and thousands of dollars annually.
The governing body and township managers have been using Apple IPads to review meeting documents prepared by the Office of the Township Clerk since November 2011. Before an average 250 pages were copied over and over to complete packets of documents relating to the business to be conducted at public meetings. Now these documents are imaged once, saving the
township over $5,000 per year in labor and paper costs, said Township Clerk Heidi Brunt.
“The switch to IPads for meeting documents is a win-win. We’re saving money and reducing the Middletown’s carbon footprint since we’re using less paper and energy,” said Mayor Anthony Fiore. “This is a great example of how township staff is thinking outside the box to find innovative ways to make everyday tasks and processes more efficient and effective.”
The township purchased IPads that use a free app that interfaces with the township’s Sharepoint Intranet Server. This provides Township Committee members with mobile access to thousands of documents at their fingertips on-site or via remote VPN access. At meetings, in public, or at the office, officials can access a mass of information to review and refer back to on all kinds of township matters.
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Our success in using the IPads is hinged on township’s imaging program initiated in 2009. At this time township staff has imaged over 300,000 documents, said Brunt. Brunt and her staff are responsible for township records management.
Document digitization is creating even more savings, thanks to a new technology called virtualization which allows for the creation of multiple virtual servers on one physical server and storage device. “This model has proven to be a green energy cost savings in terms of electricity and cooling and a cost savings since we don’t need to purchase and maintain new hardware for every new server,” MIS Director Todd Costello said
Middletown has utilized other internal SharePoint sites including an internal request system for computer support and building maintenance, and internal employee announcements. These sites are heavily utilized throughout the township for internal communications, Costello said.
Township IT staff develop and program the Sharepoint sites in-house which saves the township on costly consulting services. We develop and build most of the servers and as many of them as possible. An added benefit of in-house programming and design, is that the township does not incur annual support costs and can make changes as needed, he added.
Reducing paper usage is the latest in a series of eco-friendly projects and programs undertaken since the Middletown Green Initiative was launched in 2007. Other projects and programs include free energy efficiency upgrades at 13 township buildings; a project to generate solar power at several township locations, a study to determine if wind power could be used at township buildings; Buy Middletown, an awareness campaign that encourages residents to shop local; and the biofuel pilot program which utilizes used vegetable oil to fuel township vehicles.