A Kent council has opted to buy iPads for all of its members after its cabinet accepted a report estimating that providing laptops for them would work out almost three times as expensive.
Dover District Council is buying devices for councillors to allow them to work remotely, after concluding that allowing them to use their own devices would not comply with the requirements of the Public Services Network.
An officers report which went before the cabinet meeting said that providing iPads for all 45 members of the council would cost £16,500 compared to £45,000 for a solution involving laptops.
The report said: “Tablets provide members with the basic ICT capability to work as council members, rather than the wider range on constituency work.
“However, they are very portable and provide a highly intuitive means to access email (and other features); hence their rapid adoption in the consumer market.”
A cost comparison provided in the report said that iPads would cost just £360 per member, and would require minimal support from ICT staff.
It said that laptops would only cost £370 per member but that this cost would rise to £1,000 to provide support for Microsoft Office products in addition to anti-virus and remote access licenses.
In addition, it said that laptops could require significant ongoing support from council staff
Another benefit identified by councillors was that iPads can download an app for Modern.Gov, the system on which the council manages its agendas and minutes.
The council estimates that when fully implemented, the new online system will save it £6,500 in paper and printing costs, plus £3,300 in postage costs each year.
Its report suggested that time freed up in the council’s print room could be used to generate external income.
Council leader Paul Watkins told PublicTechnology.net: “I think there will be a bedding-in period. The majority of the councillors use laptops and tend to print off the documents at the moment.
“It will take a bit of getting used to for some.”
Last week, PublicTechnology.net revealed that councillors in Wandsworth, London, had been asked to buy their own devices, aided by council loans.