Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Proposal from Councilman Peter Knott

Streamlining Communications for the Borough and improving citizen access

I believe that we are at a stage where the Borough should look seriously to eliminating as much of the paper-based functioning which is part of its day-to-day operations. The extreme costs from the standpoint of paper and toner are actually small by comparison with personnel costs in hours spent photocopying and distributing documents and information which could more rapidly done electronically. Just a single meeting of the Mayor and Council generates mounds of paper which ultimately end up in the shredder. The cost of producing multiple copies over the course of the year is huge. Converting from a paper-based to an electronic-based system of distribution and accessibility of documents and information for the Governing body and Borough administrative functions could save up to 90% in personnel costs. The Mayor and Council packages are distributed by a patrolman from the Leonia Police Department. That's the way it's been done for years. I actually like that, but is it something we should be doing? We have hard copies of everything. I like reading from paper compared with a computer screen, but should we really be doing that? Shouldn't we take advantage now of 21st Century technology and do all our business electronically? It will require willingness and effort for such a sea change. Nostalgia for the way things used to be will always be there but sometimes change is unavoidable. As a boy growing up in the London suburbs just after WWII, I remember milk being delivered in glass bottles to our house from a horse drawn cart. How wonderful was that? Change is unavoidable.

IQM2 (Carahsoft) is an IT company which has developed an approach specifically for City and Municipal Governments to conveniently generate, track and archive electronically their documents in a searchable form. They also have developed the ability to link webcasts of public meetiings to be directly linked to Agenda/Minutes of those meetings. This enables archived audiovisual recordings to be accessed by citizens with word-searches of the meeting minutes through a Borough website. I think this should produce the kind of communication between town government and the public that has been demanded for the longest time.

I have arranged for a presentation for the next Mayor and Council (Monday October 17) for Daryl Blowes (CEO) and Rob Hoefler of IQM2 to tell us more about their company and services.
Below is the link to their website:

I participated in a Webinar from them which featured the City of Southampton, NY a client of theirs for about five years. They estimated that, using the IQM2 system, the savings in paper, toner and more importantly personnel costs from increased efficiency amount to more than $240K per year. They project that for a town of around population 9.000 the savings could be around $40K per annum but of course we would need to research that.

The town of Bloomfield NJ is a recently added client of IQM2:

Below is a link to a demo from another company Municipal Webcast which has a somewhat similar product and their demonstration is in the City of Antioch CA (this is the one I discussed a couple of years back). Go to the website and click "see the demo"

I would be happy to answer any questions about this technology that I can, but better still come to the Mayor and Council Meeting on October 17 for more information and questions.

Peter Knott