Apple iPad

The Dunwoody City Council is hoping to stay on the cutting edge of technology. The city is testing out the Apple iPad to see if the tablet computer would be a good fit for its City Council members.

“We’re looking at that as a substitute for laptops and for paper,” said City Manager Warren Hutmacher.

Currently, city staff members prepare an agenda book for each council member before meetings. Some council members use laptops to read through the meeting materials digitally instead.

Hutmacher said the iPads could reduce the amount of paper the city prints out and would be easier to use in a meeting than a traditional computer.

“There’s an application where you can pull a PDF up and be able to write on it and take notes on it like you would a piece of paper,” Hutmacher said. “This would be an easy way for them to do that without having the paper printed out.”

But Hutmacher said the city hasn’t yet determined if the iPads — which go for about $500 apiece – would be cost effective.

“It’ll be a few months before we’re ready to report back to the council with any findings,” he said.

Technology is also an interest for other metro-area cities.

Judy Parker, a spokeswoman for the Sandy Springs City Council, said the city provides its agendas electronically. “We do use laptops now, and our agendas are provided on CDs,” Parker said.

Providing laptops to the council was a decision that was made at the time of the city’s creation in 2005. “We were new and wanted to do the most updated thing. That’s what people were doing at the time we incorporated,” Parker said.

Atlanta City Council members differ in their approaches to using technology.

“Each councilmember chooses the resources best fitting his or her requirements and pay for their particular technology out of their own office budget,” spokesman Dexter Chambers wrote in an email. “Some need iPads because they spend a lot of time traveling, whereas others use their staff to keep them informed.”

Dunwoody’s staff has also incorporated technology into day-to-day operations.

“The city since its inception has really embraced technology,” Hutmacher said. “Each of our operations departments utilizes software packages that improve our efficiency.”

For example, police officers write citations electronically. They automatically are sent to the court system. The program is paperless, allowing the judge’s fingerprint to serve as a signature.

“We feel like if we can implement technology the right way, we can spend more time in the field and spend less time on administrative duties,” Hutmacher said.