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Cell phone and blackberry policy

by Mike Robinson

MINTO - It’s a move forward on the technology front.

A report by Chief Administrative Officer Bill White to council on May 3 said that the town has policies for telephones, equipment, computers, email and the internet. But, those policies do not specifically address cell phones or blackberry devices.

“Clear policy on the use of town devices and personal use of cell phones is needed.”

White presented a draft policy to be reviewed by department heads that would later be directed to committee of the whole.

He said the town supplies devices for communications for town business, safety, security reasons, and for access during irregular hours when managers or supervisors may not be available.

White suggested council’s home email address linked to a blackberry would be helpful communication for regular town business or emergencies.

The proposal included paid blackberries and cell phones for council and specific staff.

White’s report noted Mayor George Bridge already has a blackberry provided by Wellington County.

White said while the devices are intended primarily for township business, it would recognize that brief personal calls, emails, or text messages might be necessary.

Where possible, he suggested personal use be limited to lunch breaks or outside of the user’s regular working hours. He did not foresee brief personal use of the devices as increasing the overall cost of the cellular payment plan.

Due to current Ontario laws  and the danger to persons and property, the town policy would restrict use unless it is a hands free device.

White said the policy recognizes that cell phones can be a distraction in the workplace and encourages them to be shut off or in vibrate mode during meetings.

Further, because of potential roaming charges, the policy recommends town supplied devices not be used while on holidays, and alternative contact numbers be left in case of an emergency.

The bill is roughly $1,500 per month and includes a combination of cell phones and blackberries.

White believes instant communications might prove beneficial during emergencies or in regular communication.

“Council must be mindful of the policies for such devices at their own workplace or home. The benefit of instant communications should not lead to detract from work or home, or lead to unnecessary involvement in town operations.”

White suggested that supplying a blackberry instead of a laptop and a computer allowance could be cost effective.

He said bringing in cell phones and blackberries as per the revised policy would add about $3,000 annually over a three-year plan.

“At some point, the town should consider obtaining competitive quotes on cellular service.”

 

June 03, 2011

 
 

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