Regional Council Goes Paper-light

There was a time in my past where I excelled at the implementation of new technologies. The IBM PC was created in 1981 and in 1985 I spearheaded a move to  transform the way secondary schools recorded and processed records. In fact. The Director of Education referred to me as the “Cyber Rebel”. As I have aged,  the pursuit of technological innovations has diminished. During the last term of council I often had to update my personal daybook calendar because it was not near the computer or Blackberry when a meeting schedule was released. This term of council starts off with a bang by almost eliminating paper and has begun a “paper light” initiative.

For a number of reasons, the Region of Niagara has abandoned the Blackberry as the major communication device. Instead they have presented councillors and staff with several options of devices ranging from the Apple Iphone 5 to several Samsung android devices. To date I am the only councillor that has opted for the Samsung Galaxy 5. It runs on the Android operating system and is soon to be updated by Google to the latest iteration known as “Lollipop”. I chose this device as I am somewhat familiar with android as I have had a Google Nexus 7 tablet for a year or so and it is already upgraded to Lollipop version 5.0.2. That is part one of the technology learning curve.

The second part of the technology transition is that the Region no longer provides laptops for the reviewing or management of meeting agendas, minutes or reports. Instead, all councillors have been provided an Ipad Air tablet which operates over both Wifi and telephone networks. The connection with regional activities is through the intranet known as “Sherpa” or through an application called “Escribe” This application has tools that allow the user to cut and paste, highlight or underline key words or use a tool to draw or make comments on reports just like one would on a paper report. Gone are the hundreds of pages that had to be printed, collated and couriered to our homes. Gone is the excessive amount of paper to the gray box each week and gone is the clutter in my vehicle and office.

The third stage of technology change has arisen because of a great deal on high end laptops on the Shopping Channel in December. Because my former laptop has to be returned to the region I decided to upgrade my laptop and Elaine’s to a high end Dell laptop which brings in the need to learn Windows 8.1 and later this year Windows 10.

It is my hope to update my election website to an ongoing forum for both my regional columns as well as the reports presented to Pelham Council. Between the learning curves  of Android version Lollipop, the Apple Ios and Windows 8.1 to 10 it is my hope to continue to inform the Pelham community of the programs and operations of Regional Council. Be patient as I make the transition.

Brian Baty is the directly-elected regional councillor for the Town of Pelham brian.baty@niagararegion.ca