Johnathan F. Austin, Birmingham, Ala. City Councilman Johnathan F. Austin, Birmingham, Ala. City Councilman xxxxxxxxxx

Photo: Birmingham, Ala., City Councilor Johnathan F. Austin

Birmingham leaders believe they will soon have the power to save money and improve communication right in their hands. After visiting an Apple Store this week, Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell and City Councilor Johnathan F. Austin decided to move forward with the plan to bring iPads to City Hall.

The tablet touchscreen computer could help the city cut down on paper usage and save hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Austin, chair of the Council Technology Committee.

"We're burning through 20,000 sheets of paper a week just to use on Tuesdays for two hours," he said. "The iPads give us the ability to communicate more efficiently and more effectively with each other and our constituents."

Since its launch in April, the iPad has popped up in discussions across the country regarding its public-sector potential. In February, the federal government warned that the iPad's release could lead to heavy data traffic that might strain inadequate networks. By April, the White House announced a mobile version of its website optimized for portable devices, including the iPad.

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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer