Wallingford tech committee proposes Wi-Fi in council chambers

Wallingford tech committee proposes Wi-Fi in council chambers

Record-Journal
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FILE PHOTO -- Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. addresses the crowd during a swearing in ceremony in the Robert F. Parisi Town Council Chambers at Town Hall in Wallingford on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. | Eric Vo / Record-Journal

WALLINGFORD — Members of the Town Council’s Technology Committee say initiatives they plan to push this year include putting property records online and providing Wi-Fi access in council chambers.

The committee formed in 2014 with the mission of facilitating conversations about technology advancements among town officials. The first meeting of 2017 was held last week. The committee reviewed past initiatives and brainstormed future goals.

Among those in attendance were Town Councilor Tom Laffin, who chairs the committee, as well as Vincent Testa and Joe Marrone, who are members. Councilors Craig Fishbein and John LeTourneau also attended the meeting.

Laffin proposed setting up an internet router in the auditorium at Town Hall, where the council and other government bodies hold public meetings. The router would provide internet access in the auditorium, where there currently is none, Laffin said.

Marrone said access to Wi-Fi would be beneficial for councilors, who receive meeting documents electronically and need internet to access the files during meetings. While some councilors can utilize phone data to view the documents, viewing large documents on a smaller phone screen can “be a pain in the neck,” Marrone said. The Wi-Fi would only be accessible for councilors and town officials initially, Laffin said.

Laffin expects to present the idea to Town Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni and Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.

Internet in the auditorium is just one example of ideas the committee plans to present to town officials, according to Laffin.

In brainstorming changes, Fishbein called for property records to be made available online, a proposal that Dickinson has rejected in the past because of concerns about privacy. Anyone looking to view property records has to visit Town Hall.

In past years, the committee, which meets as needed, has worked with Dickinson and town department heads to initiate changes in technology. While the committee does not have authority to mandate changes, Laffin said, it has had success with town officials on some improvements.

The committee helped start a discussion with the Economic Development Commission about making information from the town’s geographical information system available online for prospective businesses who want information about a land parcel. Laffin said talks about that change are still ongoing. The committee was also able to work with the town in installing a fiber optic internet network in Town Hall, which previously had DSL lines separately installed in individual offices, Marrone said.

Other changes the committee has worked to bring include having video footage of government meetings posted on YouTube. In past years, anyone looking to obtain the footage had to request a DVD.

When talking about progress the town has made in embracing technology over the years, Laffin cited the town recently posting its financial audit report to its website as a positive indication.

“Three years ago that’d never happen,” he said.

Down the road, Laffin hopes to push for electronic news notifications from the town’s website for residents. He said the committee’s goals are “ever changing just like technology.”

He added that the committee aims to take a measured approach in influencing changes.

“It’s a culture change, but we’re getting there,” Laffin said. “Yeah, slower than I might love, but it is respectfully measured to a point.”

mzabierek@record-journal.com 203-317-2279




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