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TMCNet:  iPadding the budget [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]

[March 03, 2014]

iPadding the budget [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]

(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) iPad costs - Device cost: $929.99 Optional accessories: - Protective case: $67.49 - Keyboard peripheral: $74.99 - Stylus: $11.24 Total, with accessories: $1,083.71 tablets, by department - Airport: 2 iPads - City Council: 7 iPads - City Manager's Office: 4 iPads - Police: 1 iPad - Engineering Traffic: 2 iPads - Engineering: 12 iPads and 1 Samsung Android - Finance: 1 iPad - Fire: 1 iPad - Health: 2 iPads - Housing: 2 iPads - Human Rights: 4 iPads - Information Services: 5 iPads - Legal Services: 1 iPad - Leisure Services: 1 iPad - Parking: 1 iPad and 6 Samsung Galaxy 3 Androids - Planning: 2 iPads - Public Works: 6 iPads Total: 54 iPads, 7 Android devicesThe rising popularity of tablet computers, particularly iPads, have opened the door for unprecedented levels of connectivity and efficiency, according to city of Dubuque officials.

From public works to human rights to the City Council, staff members in multiple departments rely on tablet computers daily. The city currently utilizes 64 tablets, and an additional 18 iPad purchases are included in the fiscal year 2015 budget recommendation.

At $929.99 for each device, not including accessories like a keyboard peripheral or protective case, the planned purchases could tack an additional $16,739.82 onto the city's total expenses next year.

Chris Kohlmann, Dubuque's information services director, said the city is keeping in line with global trends.

"I think it follows a trend in our world," she said. "People want to be connected anywhere, any time. It gives them that convenience." Unlike laptops and other personal computers, tablets can connect with mobile data networks also utilized by smartphones. Without needing a wired or wireless tether to an Internet access point, workers can access city networks from anywhere.

"In a lot of those cases, the laptop would just be too bulky, too big," Kohlmann said.

The city takes advantage of an unlimited data plan offered by Verizon at discounted rates, according to Kohlmann. Each tablet's data plan costs about $40 each month.

Tablets allow remote access to the city's Geographic Information Systems. Data connected to every geographic landmark in Dubuque, including buildings, sewer lines and fire hydrants, is stored in the multi-layered GIS.

Things like winter sidewalk inspections are made much simpler with a tablet on hand, according to GIS Coordinator Nikki Breitsprecker. Reports that previously had to be filed at the office now can be done from the field by simply accessing an on-screen, drop-down menu, she said.

"It's nice. It's right at their fingertips," Breitsprecker said. "It's very intuitive." Emergency Communications Manager Mark Murphy is set to receive an iPad as part of a $1,040 improvement package. He said the device will allow him to monitor call levels remotely and quickly respond to issues that arise.

"With our new software, I'll be able to remote into and be able to monitor what's going on while I'm away from the office," he said. "If I can see it's getting busier, if I need to adjust manpower, I can do that." Many smartphones are capable of the same functions as tablets, Kohlmann said. But the larger screen sizes of tablets makes things like mapping applications easier and more practical, she said.

"It's a visual application usually," Kohlmann said. "IPads work very well for those things (like) drop down, fill-in-the blank kind of form." (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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