Arwyn Morris, Corporate Lead Officer for Customer Contact presented a report to the Committee outlining the current provision of equipment and software which includes a laptop and 2 screens which enables Councillors to view the remote meeting and camera and papers simultaneously, whilst the Office 365 software can be used with up to 5 separate pieces of equipment including, phones, ipads and other devices.
He noted that Members had requested a report in relation to the purchasing of iPads as additional equipment, and emphasised that these would need to be patched to the Council’s network, with each Member responsible for updating patches which protects the Council’s data and the Councillors personal data as updates cannot be remotely pushed through automatically by ICT staff.
The current cost of purchasing laptops is £680. The iPad Generation 9 costs £350, whilst the latest iPad Generation 10 cost between £350 to £400. With the addition of vat, the total cost would be close to £500. The iPad Generation 10 is currently listed on the Apple website at £499. ICT equipment is bought via a purchasing framework, which unlike previous years, restricts forward selling by the authority.
Prior to the commencement of the 5-year municipal term, budget is set aside to cover the cost of purchasing equipment for Members. There is no additional provision, with the exception of maintenance costs.
Members asked for assistance in transferring personal information that they had stored on the iPads received during the previous municipal term and were advised that this is a relatively simple process, however they are welcome to contact ICT if they require advice, however ICT staff would not be able to do this for Members, as it contains personal information.
Members asked whether a survey had been conducted to seek their views. It was confirmed that the previous Chair of the committee conducted his own survey and provided feedback at the following meeting.
Members noted that laptops and 2 screens were great for day to day work and attending meetings from home; however due to the nature of their work, they would also need to have access from other locations not in the office or at home or whilst out and about in their communities when they may wish to share something with others, or view trees, potholes and eroding coastlines, noting that attendance at meetings makes up less than 50% of their time. If other buildings have Wi-Fi, everything is fine, but this is not always the case.
Members noted that there needed to be a discussion as to the needs of Councillors and challenged whether the purchasing rules had changed. They also noted that they are being encouraged not to attend the offices, which makes it difficult for them to use the printers, noting that some Members may prefer to have individual home printers and asked whether additional equipment could be made available at no cost to Councillors or ratepayers.
Members noted that some of them cannot get 4G on their phones, and asked if this could be provided, as other councils give their members a choice including 4G. Others noted that the solution is fine for Officers, however Members were issued with a laptop and 2 screen which many don’t know how to turn on and that the solution provided has to be appropriate for Members.
Other Members were of the view that home-printers were a huge step backwards in terms of cost and the environment, and that Apple systems are often incompatible with Android Office systems, reminding Members that the Office 365 licences entitles them to distribute the licence across up to 5 other pieces of equipment.
The Chairman noted that it is possible to take meetings via the phone however it is not ideal and that they general consensus appears to be that it would be good to have a choice. Members agreed, noting that they were not asking for everything, however they would appreciate it if there was an option to change the package.
Arwyn Morris reminded Members that the decision to move to Modern.gov was as a result of moving from the age of paper to a digital solution which applies across the whole county. Some returning Members have kept their old printers, however they will have to purchase ink and paper themselves if they chose to continue using them. He also noted his concern with regards to attending a meeting via a relatively small 7” screen, whilst accessing document digitally at the same time. He also reminded Members that they need to ensure confidentiality and the security of confidential papers if they are attending meetings remotely from other locations. He also reminded them that they can use their personal 4G as a hotspot for accessing their laptops, and that if Members require advice, that they should contact the ICT helpdesk.
Members noted that they cannot print documents directly from Modern.gov and were reminded that Modern.gov is a secure digital solution, aimed at improving security and also contributes to reducing the Council’s carbon footprint and landfill from printing documents. However the ability to print public documents is available on the Council’s website.
Members asked that they are consulted regarding their ICT requirements, and it was agreed that the Chair and Vice Chair would meet with Officers from Democratic Services to discuss the content of a questionnaire.
It was RESOLVED to issue a survey to all Councillors regarding their ICT requirements.