Boston Plans Paperless Push

Live video streaming, online documents and agendas in the works by Boston city government.

by / January 3, 2011
Boston Harbor Photo by Willem van Bergen. Creative Commons License Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Boston is joining the growing ranks of cities that are striving for a paperless workplace.

In an effort beginning this month that officials say will improve transparency, City Council documents and agendas will be made available online, and meetings will be streamed live. The Boston City Council will enhance live video streaming capabilities and create a searchable database of video clips that will be linked to agendas, past meetings and voting records for any citizen to view.

Each Boston councilor will also get a touchscreen tablet computer to use during meetings.

The paperless project is estimated to save Boston $35,000 a year after an initial $35,000 investment, and a $23,000 yearly maintenance and virtual hosting fee. Officials said the new technology will save labor time and hundreds of thousands of sheets of paper.

“It will allow for far more transparency than we currently have, immediate access to real-time information, and we’ll be saving money,’’ said outgoing City Council President Michael P. Ross in a Boston Globe article.

Boston’s decision comes as a growing number of governments, since the economy took a turn for the worse in late 2007, decided to make the switch to paperless technology.

Boston will be working with SIRE Technologies, a document management vendor in Salt Lake City. The company has seen increased interest in its online documentation services, said Troy Doller, corporate development director at SIRE. He attributes the “tremendous shift” to organizations relying on technology as a way to pick up the slack for laid-off employees and reduce costs forced by budget cuts.

Currently SIRE serves 400 municipal and county governments in North America, including larger cities. The company said going paperless can save cities upward of $100,000 a year.

Lauren Katims Nadeau

Lauren Katims previously served as a staff writer and contributing writer for Government Technology magazine.

Platforms & Programs