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Technology saving Sanibel much more than paper

By Staff | Aug 24, 2012

The City of Sanibel is on track to have its technology conversion fully implemented over the next 24 months.

Administrators have started rolling out Phase II of the project as Phase I, started two years ago, will be complete in just a few weeks.

“We’re in the debugging stage right now,” said Sanibel City Manager Judith Zimomra. “Phase II is more for records storage and retrieval and accounting software.”

Over the past 24 months the city has reduced the number of paper copies made by administration by more than 500,000 sheets on just one copy machine.That’s a savings to the city of more than $4,000, plus the time and labor. Expenses for postage over the last 12 months also has been reduced by 54 percent, a savings of several hundred dollars.

“We’ve provided iPads for Council members, who don’t need paper copies anymore, and use email extensively,” said Zimomra. “In addition to the positive environmental impacts of converting to a paperless system, we have found efficiencies in the quality of our work product, response times and transparency.”

Staff workers in the field are using wireless devices to transmit real time photographs to supervisors for immediate feedback, thus eliminating the number of trips and persons required for site visits to make decisions.

“Another extremely effective use of our technological upgrades has been the deployment of computers in police cruisers which provide our officers increased time on neighborhood patrol,” said Zimomra. “It has reduced dramatically the amount of time officers are in the station completing traditional paperwork.”

Implementing Phase II converts public records and historical documents to a cloud-based system rather than storing them on traditional servers.

“The emphasis is on quality of services and the ease of use by the public,” added Zimomra. “Especially for a community like Sanibel where we have many seasonal residents. They can access the information online even when they are not in town, from anywhere in the world, in fact.”

In the next 24 months, citizens will be able to conduct most transactions with the city online (www.mysanibel.com), from bill paying to checking the status of permits and such.

There is no Phase III beyond the current initiative at this time, but Zimomra says, “With technology it will be a process that we’re constantly updating.”