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Mar. 26, 2013 @ 07:59 PM

Potential for communication through automation was enhanced Tuesday afternoon for Vance County commissioners as they each received modern-day tablet devices.

“We’re trying to move toward paperless, and toward less weight, and to keep up with technology,” said Tommy Hester, commissioner chairman.

Kevin Brown, information technology director for Vance County, helped guide the commissioners in their search for the best means of modern communication, discussing benefits offered by various laptop and tablet products during their January planning retreat.

The new devices will be used to create paperless agendas, and ensure all commissioners have county email addresses.
After several meetings with the Vance County Technology Committee, and several discussions with commissioners, Brown presented his recommendation for devices using a Windows 8 platform during the commissioners’ February board meeting.

Four commissioners opted to use the Lenovo Twist device, and three choosing a Microsoft Surface device. Both operate with the Windows 8 platform, which according to Brown is compatible with much of the county’s current software and applications.

“Both use Windows 8, which is the latest incarnation of Windows operating systems, and was written for tablet devices,” Brown said. “That gives us a lot of flexibility.”

On Tuesday Brown conducted a training session, demonstrating and facilitating discussion on how to operate both devices.

Tablets were purchased with around $8,500 of money that was budgeted for the current fiscal year in spring of 2012.

Four Lenovo Twists with cases cost $928.07 each. With shipping the total reached $3,791.04. For three Microsoft Surface devices with cases and key pads, the cost came to $1,141.12 each. With shipping the total reached $3,423.36.

With cost for all seven devices, their given accessories and shipping, the total of $7,214.40 did not deplete the entire budgeted amount.

“I want to say the whole $8,500 has not been used,” said Jerry Ayscue, the county manager.

While Ayscue did not receive a device of his own on Tuesday, he believes it’s possible in the future.

“At this point in time I’m not getting one,” Ayscue said. “It just depends on how this evolves. If they’re going to be able to use them for conducting business in commissioner meetings then a couple of us will have to get those computers as well.”

A Technology Appropriate Use Policy is in place, which covers the use of all technology resources belonging to Vance County, whether individually controlled or shared, stand alone or networked.

The policy lists specific terms of use stating, “All technology owned by Vance County are in place to enable the elected officials of the county to provide its services in a timely and efficient manner. This is the primary function of these resources and any activity or action that interferes with this purpose is prohibited. Ethical and legal standards apply to information technology resources.”

Through the use of their tablet devices Vance County Commissioners can uphold policy standards by using digital agendas during board and committee meetings rather than flipping through hundreds of pages of printed documents.

“Sometimes agenda packets will be 300 pages,” Brown said. “The administrative overhead of creating that much paper to hand out is quite a bit. It’s two or three days of labor.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.