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Summary:

The town of Cornelius, Colo. has found that a new pilot program replacing paper with iPads is saving the administration money and time, helping the environment and increasing government transparency. It’s a good example of how the iPad could replace laptops for many organizations.

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The town of Cornelius, N.C. Colo. has found that a new pilot program replacing paper with iPads is saving the administration money, time and helping the environment along with increasing government transparency, according to the Huntersville Herald. Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte and the town’s five commissioners were each issued an iPad 2 recently, paid for by the town, which they premiered at the town’s board meeting on Monday, June 20.

The iPads all plug into the town’s NovusAgenda software, providing commissioners with all necessary meeting materials, including budget worksheets, zoning maps and PowerPoint presentations, which once comprised 210 pages of printed materials each. These packages used to be distributed in paper form to 19 members, which meant a whole lot of time spent copying, and money spent leasing and maintaining copy equipment, in addition to the cost of supplies.

Town Manager Anthony Roberts says he’s amazed with how much sense it makes to use iPads and digital material instead of paper. “It’s just a no brainer,” he told the Huntersville Herald. “We used to print all those agenda packets and people threw them in the recycling bin after the meeting.” Plus, Roberts says, going digital helps transparency, since “the beauty of this system is you have everything online. It’s there forever and a day, and the general public sees everything.”

There’s an initial expense associated with the system, but the NovusAgenda software is a one-time fee that should last years, and the iPad 2s are actually relatively cheap, since only the 16 GB Wi-Fi versions are required. Roberts says the city spent between $700 and $800 on each laptop it was purchasing anyways, so the iPad is a much more economical solution. With a gradual rollout, there’s no reason to think the savings wouldn’t scale for larger cities, too.

The iPad is winning fans in government, business and education because it’s easy to use for almost anyone, and because it’s very flexible thanks to its support of custom apps that plug into third-party systems and server software. Cornelius is a good example of how it can have an impact at the municipal level, and Roberts points out a very good reason why we might see other cities (many of which are facing budget crunches) follow suit: “People ask why? To save money. They’re cheaper. That’s why.”

  1. Couple it with projection to external video (projector or monitor) by AirPlay (via Apple TV) and you’ve got a great presentation tool. No need to switch plugs as presenters change.

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  2. I would rather have the HTC Flyer or any other tablet with a pen. I often need to add notes on documents, don’t you?

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  3. @Maslintcho: True. But you can purchase a pen for the iPad. I have no experience with one myself, but I know that they are out there and that there are apps that support it.

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  4. There are many Apps that allow you to use a $15 stylus or even your finger if you desire.

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  5. Cornelius, Colorado? I’m afraid you’re about 1,600 miles off here. Cornelius is a small town just north of Charlotte, North Carolina.

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    1. Mark

      Thanks for pointing out the error. It has been fixed. Sorry that the error cropped up.

      Best

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  6. James Greene Sunday, July 24, 2011

    The NYT posted a copycat article dated July 22, 2011! Though the NYT got the state right, it’s article comes three weeks after this article.

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