COMMISSION DE SERVICES POLICIERS D’OTTAWA
Working together for a safer community
La sécurité de notre communauté, un travail d’équipe
DATE 24 September 2012
TO/DEST. Chair and Members of the Ottawa Police Services Board
FROM/EXP. Executive Director, Ottawa Police Services Board
SUBJECT/OBJET ELECTRONIC AGENDA SYSTEM
That the Ottawa Police Services Board receive this report for information.
In August 2008 City Council approved a direction to move towards paperless meetings. Following a Request for Proposal process, SIRE Technologies Inc. was retained to build a bilingual electronic agenda system that the City could use for its Council and committee meetings. The City’s standing committees are in the process of gradually introducing this paper-free new system between now and the end of the year. External boards, including the Police Services Board, have been invited to opt in to the system. This report provides information about the new system so that Board members and Police staff are aware of the planned changes.
There are many advantages to the e-Agenda system. It will give the public an enhanced, near real-time view of decisions being made at meetings. All records, including votes taken at meetings, will be available online. The City expects to save $124,000 a year on paper, which equates to 2.3 million pages of paper per year. The e-Agenda will also help the City meet its Accessibility of Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) target by publishing reports in clear print (Arial, 12+ font) and producing reports and agendas in unilingual English and unilingual French format, which is essential for screen readers for the visually impaired.
Adopting the system for the Police Services Board will mean that agendas and supporting documents will generally look the same, but rather than receiving paper copies of agendas, reports and other material, Board members and staff will receive meeting documents electronically. In advance of the meeting, staff can choose to self-print the materials from Ottawa.ca (where documents related to Police Services Board meetings are located). Members of the public can also print in advance or contact Board staff for copies of an item of interest. Board members receiving electronic copies of the agenda will be able to make notes and highlight text in their own electronic copy, which will be available to them on screen at the meeting.
For people listening to meetings using the audio-cast, the new system will have quick links from agenda items to the start of discussions in the audio-casts so users can listen to the debate on one item or listen to the whole meeting. A re-vamped Ottawa.ca will feature comprehensive searching capabilities for all meeting materials and decisions. Voting records for all Board members will be available and all records will be available in the ‘Open Data Catalogue’ on Ottawa.ca. During the meeting, new public screens in the meeting room can show the items under discussion, report recommendations, new motions being discussed, public speakers, and the final vote tallies after each vote.
As a result of the enhanced ability to access records of meetings through audio-casting and the City’s Open Data Catalogue, as well as staff resources required in-meeting to operate the new system, starting in January 2013 the Board minutes will no longer contain summaries of discussions at meetings. This is in keeping with the practice adopted by City committees in April 2011.
The e-Agenda is a complex solution that will require an adjustment period as staff and Board members get accustomed to the changes and new technology. The meeting pace may have to slow down to support the transmittal of votes and decisions to the web to ensure that the public can follow the meeting proceedings from home, but as the tool continues to be rolled out, it will make the meeting process more efficient from start to finish.
Laptop computers with the meeting software have been installed at the tables in the Champlain Room for members of the Board and senior staff. An additional monitor has been installed for the person chairing a meeting. Viewing screens have been installed for the public gallery, which will allow those in the audience to view motions and votes in real-time.
The City committees and Council will be gradually adopting the new system throughout the fall. In October, Board staff will be meeting with representatives from SIRE Technologies Inc. to confirm our requirements and develop the necessary templates for the Board’s agendas and minutes. Training for Board staff is expected to occur in December and January, as they will be responsible for creating the electronic agendas and minutes, and for inputting motions, votes, etc. into the system during meetings. Training on using the electronic Agenda system will be provided to community representatives on the Board during that timeframe as well, as Councillors will have already received training. Following testing and any adjustments required it is anticipated that the Police Services Board will be ready to start using the new system in early 2013.
The City awarded a contract to SIRE in the amount of $260,510.20. Additional software costs, including enterprise licenses and French enhancements totalled $177,658.60. Additional hardware costs, such as encoders and servers, cost $132,512.32. The total project cost was $570,681.12, with a payback period from the initial capital investment of 4.6 years.
Because of the City’s significant investment, the Board will be able to adopt the e-Agenda solution at very minimal cost. The Board is also saving on training costs by piggybacking on training with other external boards such as the Public Library Board, Public Health Board and the Committee of Adjustments.
Adopting the e-Agenda solution will involve a one-time cost to the Police Services Board of $4,800 for licenses and template development, plus annual software maintenance costs of $150. There are funds available in the Board’s Professional Services account to cover this expenditure.
The e-Agenda will improve the Board’s transparency and accountability by providing the public with an enhanced, near real-time view of Board meeting proceedings. The Police Services Board has the opportunity of utilizing the same system being adopted by City Council and Committees at a very reasonable cost due to the fact that the City has already acquired and installed the infrastructure, software and licensing.
(Original signed by)