‘We may find it a hard tablet to swallow’

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Our revelation today that 58 city councillors and 25 senior officials are to be issued with free Apple iPads will jar with many readers.

On the one hand, it is vital for the city council to take the lead in embracing new technology and the opportunities which the digital age presents. On the other is the inescapable “them and us” impression which this move creates as councillors land expensive freebie tablet computers just weeks after being elected.

The council insists the move is all about saving money as it seeks to cut down on the £200,000 bill of printing committee papers. That is an admirable aim but the critics will take some convincing.

A more palatable option may have been to trial a small number of devices, including some less expensive alternatives, so that the pros and cons could be weighed up before a final decision on spending taxpayers’ cash on such a premium product.

We also need to be sure that the technology will be in place to ensure the shiny new devices will work properly and be able to cope with 58 councillors reading a report – or playing Sudoku – at the same time.

Whether the paper mountain reduces significantly as a result of buying the iPads remains to be seen as does whether the figures will actually stack up in the end. This is not a one-off cost after all, as there will be ongoing maintenance and regular upgrades to factor in.

With technology moving so swiftly, an iPad2 could look very out of date halfway through the life of this new administration, when Apple unveils its fifth generation of the tablet.

There is little doubt that such technology will play an even more important role in every area of life in the future and it is right that, as the Capital city, Edinburgh is at the forefront. We will be the first to hail the environmental and financial benefits of such a move if it can be demonstrated that it results in more efficient working.

However, if it turns into an expensive experiment, taxpayers may well find these difficult tablets to swallow. Winning ways

For Hibs fans, it really must have been the final insult – even the bus stops were rubbing it in.

The city council gave permission to celebrate the Jambos’ historic win in unusual fashion by taking over a page of the Bustracker display to read “Hearts, Hearts, Glorious Hearts”.

The partisan gesture does, however, appear to have been taken in good sport on the green side of the city. They are just thankful the buses home ran on time.