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Councillors are set to be given iPads after a review of ICT provision at the Council.

The move comes after a successful pilot of the scheme with some councillors and will replace the current laptop scheme in place.

The current method of paying for councillors broadband will be scrapped, currently costing £4,320 a year, which does break down roughly to £15 a month which appears normal for packages.

Currently the council spend around £36,000 on printing the agendas and minutes for meetings, so the aim is that using iPads the councillors will not require the often inch thick printouts.

It is proposed that the councillors will get iPads themselves, with Lead Members getting the more useful ‘3G’ enabled iPads if required. The difference is the 3G ones will in theory go online anywhere via mobile networks, whereas the other versions require a wifi connection.

Further iPads will be purchased and stored just incase of problems with the issued ones, or if a member forgets his or her iPad.

The iPad issuing is noted as a cost saving option, compared to the currently expensive laptop plus support and specialist software. The iPad option is priced at £431 plus £20 a year support costs – per councillor. The 3G options will be £355 plus £169pa due to the data contract charges.

Other options are on the table including ‘small form’ laptops for people who prefer keyboards and the like, plus a third option of ‘BYOD’ – so councillors can bring their own device and use that. There is an option for Lead Members to opt for a Blackberry device, which appears as in addition to a wifi iPad.

A test group was setup to see if iPads were the way forward, with seven members taking part. During the two month trial they used them to access and work with council documents. The outcome of the trial was ‘extremely positive’ with ‘huge benefit’ seen.

There is no mention of other devices being tested, for example much cheaper Android based tablets. Or, for those wanting a keyboard Wrexham.com is aware that the Asus Transformer device acts as a tablet with a detachable keyboard which also adds to battery life.

There is also no mention which of the three iterations of the iPad are being discussed, however due to the price points and timescales we believe it is the ‘iPad 2′.

With the iOS now being integrated with the likes of Twitter, we look forward to increased insight to the workings of the Council and hopefully following from the first tweet during a council meeting (reported live by Wrexham.com) the rules changing to see a more transparent process via these new devices!

Further to this we now expect the usual 6-7am ‘embargo’ on some Council news & reports to move to midnight, as Councillors can catch up on the news via their new iPads from the sofa (or bed!) rather than having to walk in the early morning cold to buy a paper icon wink Councillors To Be Given iPads

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