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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Councilor Storch asks a stumper question

The topic was information technology and Plainfield City Administrator Marc Dashield was presenting.

Councilor Cory Storch's question was simplicity itself: Does this mean that we'll be able to get our information packets by email?

The answer is that even when the $1.1 million IT project is completed in July or August, it won't make a difference to the Councilor's question, since the packets could be emailed NOW, even without the fancy bells and whistles that are coming.

The truth is that the weekly packets, already prepared in digital format (using MS Word) could easily be converted to PDF file (also using MS Word) and emailed to Councilors on Friday evening. So what's the holdup?

The good news on the information technology front is that the $1.1M project to network City Hall and the Annex is expected to be complete by July/August. With a data center in the Annex which will house all the city's servers, workers will be completely networked, with no more standalone computers.

The aged Centrex phone system will be replaced by a VOIP (internet-based) telephone system. (This is a good thing.) Unspecified were plans/expenses for including outlying facilities such as the DPW Yard and the east and west end fire station (read: more expenses).

The bad news is that this project only addresses connectivity, not productivity.

It was productivity that Councilor Storch had in mind with his questions. Another one he raised was whether the $1.1M project meant that residents would now be able to file permit applications online. The answer is no.

There has not even been a discussion yet of what is referred to as 'e-government', making it possible for residents, businesses and taxpayers to do everything from apply for permits to paying taxes and other bills online. And when that is eventually discussed, you can be sure there will be more money needing to be spent.

One item that was NOT mentioned, either by Mr. Dashield or Council members, was whether the new network would include having a dedicated email server for elected officials and employees. It is a matter of continuing concern, especially given how important email has become as a part of the normal course of conducting business, that City employees have a jumble of email options (some even using free webmail accounts) and there is no attempt to preserve this correspondence, which is in fact a part of the public record. Not to mention that elected officials all used private emails.

Finally, Mr. Dashield did not address whether the ever-popular government productivity tool, Solitaire, would be hosted on the network or reside on individual computers.

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

we're not doing Tetris anymore?? Sad Sad Sad.

Anonymous said...

Who is doing the work? Shouldn't they have mapped out a scope of work prior to starting the work?