E-documents to halve city's print bill

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E-documents to halve city's print bill

Bill Goodwin
A project to make documents available electronically to council staff and the public will allow Edinburgh City Council to cut its £150,000 annual printing bill by half.

The £155,000 project is part of raft of online initiatives under way in the council's £200m Smart City programme with BT Syntegra to provide online services to the public.

The council has invested in a Windows-based knowledge management engine, Knowledgeworker, supplied by Datum Consulting, to manage the documentation generated by council meetings, which is the equivalent to a stack of paper several metres high for each executive meeting.

The system will make it much easier for Edinburgh residents to find information about the council over the web and to make their views on local issues known before council meetings, said Andrew Unsworth, head of e-government at the council.

"Previously if someone wanted to know how the council was doing business, it would involve coming into the central offices and searching through the paperwork. There is a big drive to tackle the democratic deficit so we can involve more people in decision making," he said.

The council has integrated the Knowledgeworker package with its suite of Xerox photocopiers through the council's wide area network. It uses Adobe software to convert images from paper copies of council minutes into electronic documents as they are photocopied.

"Most of the challenges have been organisational, such as making sure elected members and officers in the council were comfortable the technology would actually deliver. The consequences of getting this wrong would be politically difficult. We had to get the technology working perfectly before the users would accept it," he said.

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