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British Govt Debates Swapping Printers For iPads

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the coff-new-toys-for-the-servants-coff dept.

Government 237

An anonymous reader writes "The British government is examining whether it could save money by getting rid of its printers and giving civil servants free iPads instead. The head of the UK government skunkworks told silicon.com that if he got rid of all of a major government department's printers and gave staff iPads, the savings on printing costs would pay for the tablets in less than 18 months. The UK parliament has already let tablets into the debating chamber, with politicians already starting to choose to use tablets rather than bundles of papers in debates."

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237 comments

Ex news of the world journalists ..... (2, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455508)

Ex news of the world journalists ..... prime your friendly hacker, you could be getting the story of the century.

Re:Ex news of the world journalists ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455982)

Why is this off topic - I am sure that ex NOW journalists would love to see a "printout" of all of the minister's commons briefings.

Politicians Choice (1, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455556)

"with politicians already starting to choose to use tablets rather than bundles of papers in debates."

Research shows that when "debating" a political opponent, hitting them up side the head with an iPad is 55% more effective than hitting them up side the head with a bundle of paper.

Re:Politicians Choice (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455842)

I question the methodology of that research. Was it just pure number crunching, or did they actually do physical tests? If they did do physical tests, did they use a stack of paper as thick as the ipad, or as thick as the amount of notes the ipad would replace in an average political debate?

With a blunt weapons of equal contact area, it all comes down to the mass of your weapon. Against an equal thickness stack of paper, the ipad would win due to density. But against the ream of paper notes a ipad can easily replace in a debate, paper wins out.

And I bet your research completely left out the papercut factor...

Re:Politicians Choice (1)

RattFink (93631) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456150)

Was it just pure number crunching, or did they actually do physical tests? If they did do physical tests, did they use a stack of paper as thick as the ipad, or as thick as the amount of notes the ipad would replace in an average political debate?

More importantly where can I find videos of the tests?

Re:Politicians Choice (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456164)

If they did do physical tests, did they use a stack of paper as thick as the ipad, or as thick as the amount of notes the ipad would replace in an average political debate? [snip] And I bet your research completely left out the papercut factor...

I propose we use an old fashioned cannon. Load one up with ipads, and another one with paper. It would probably result in far worse cuts than papercuts. However, to complete the process we will need to yell sarcastic and cynical remarks at the test subject. It's all in the name of science, mind you, not some personal grudge.

We'll need a large enough pool of test-subjects, so I suggest we start immediately at the European level and skip the British parliament for now. On second thought, let's just gather all the politicians of the world together and just build a cannon large enough to launch them in orbit.

And yes, it has to be a cannon. Anything less is unacceptable. It IS for science after all.

another try at the paperless office (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455572)

As I see it, there are two serious problems with this effort. First, sooner or later someone is going to want a hard copy of a document, if only because a software copy can be altered and is impermanent. Second, once you get away from paper, you lose one of the current fundamental obstacles to increasing the extent and power of bureaucracy, namely, that someone has to keep track of all the paperwork and some place has to be found to store it.

I dread to think of the makework that they'll have all those freed government employees doing in order to keep government rolls at current levels of employment and how much extra work it'll mean for anyone having to interact with that bureaucracy.

Re:another try at the paperless office (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455626)

I think you raised a good but solvable point, which is there needs to be a trusted notary who can digitally sign and date any given document. There are commercial solutions for this [surety.com] , but the govt. would need to select one and oversee it.

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455628)

I dread to think of the makework that they'll have all those freed government employees doing in order to keep government rolls at current levels of employment and how much extra work it'll mean for anyone having to interact with that bureaucracy.

Someone's going to have to constantly train and re-train the users on how to turn the device on, where their documents are located, how to save, how to tie their shoes...

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455874)

I dread to think of the makework that they'll have all those freed government employees doing in order to keep government rolls at current levels of employment and how much extra work it'll mean for anyone having to interact with that bureaucracy.

Someone's going to have to constantly train and re-train the users on how to turn the device on, where their documents are located, how to save, how to tie their shoes...

Yep - and then train them not to play Angry Birds (or check their email etc) when they are supposed to be running the country.

Re:another try at the paperless office (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455984)

Yep - and then train them not to play Angry Birds (or check their email etc) when they are supposed to be running the country.

They don't run the country. Civil servants do that. Politicians just make lots of loud braying noises at each other across a large room with lots of comfy chairs designed for the purpose of catching a nice daytime snooze.

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456136)

Not sure on the Brit side, but I'm pretty sure the Senate and House here in the US would do less damage if all they did was play angry birds...

Re:another try at the paperless office (4, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455956)

Exactly - they have ignored the TCO of iPads and compared only the initial purchase cost with the assumption that every civil servant with an iPad will never use a printer again! What about support, administration, setup of wifi networks or 3g costs, software and security updates, replacement of broken hardware etc.? That will be outsourced to some big corporation like Accenture, which will easily triple the initial purchase cost; the civil service apparently pays upto 10 times the commercial rate for IT systems [bbc.co.uk] .

This is the same civil service that has consistently refused to upgrade from IE6 [eweekeurope.co.uk] , and which their own MPs report said "The lack of IT skills in government and over-reliance on contracting out is a fundamental problem which has been described as a 'recipe for rip-offs'". Maybe they should fix the existing problems before they embark on a whole new IT rollout? And why iPads or Android tablets? What can a civil servant do with an tablet that they can't do with a cheaper laptop or netbook? And why dismiss the obvious solution to expensive printing costs - buy cheaper paper and ink? Or charge the users for each page printed? I have seen a per-page charge for printer use instigated at an institution and the change in user behaviour was fast and cut costs more than any large IT project every would. When printing is free it will get abused - people were printing out non-work-related manuals, books, home photos, stuff for their friends etc. Charging for printing stopped that overnight.

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456094)

I'm more curious as to "Why the iPad?"

Is it because they want an excuse to play Angry Birds during work? Why wouldn't another far less expensive eReader w/ Web Browser + pluggin support do the same job if not better?

Why give them a Porsche when a Civic will do the job just as well?

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456192)

Charging for printing is fine, so long as you provide a system whereby employees can recover those costs for legitimate work related printing.

This is actually another benefit of home working, people can use their own printer to print things, and then reclaim the expenses for any work related printing they did.

Things to avoid tho...
1, make sure that everything printed is logged... this also makes it harder to steal data via printing it
2, make sure users cant connect direct to the printer, a lot of network printers also have usb ports and users might connect their laptops to these.. also most printers dont implement logging or accounting themselves, so you need to print via a server that does only this system falls apart if users can connect direct to the printer itself.

Re:another try at the paperless office (2)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455732)

once you get away from paper, you lose one of the current fundamental obstacles to increasing the extent and power of bureaucracy, namely, that someone has to keep track of all the paperwork and some place has to be found to store it.

You don't work in government, I think - the stories I hear from the EU, what with them being mostly paperless, are of excessive workloads handling non-paper-based documents.

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455738)

First, sooner or later someone is going to want a hard copy of a document, if only because a software copy can be altered and is impermanent.

Can you give me an example that can't be trivially solved by digitally signing the document?

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455860)

People's trust in computers in general after what happened to Sony and DigiNotar?

Re:another try at the paperless office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455876)

CAs can't be trusted.

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455962)

You don't need a CA, you can do it yourself. Which is fine for situations like this where it's being used internally. Otherwise, it's not really that different than in the US where most people never get to see the original bills that are being debated, just the electronic copy.

Re:another try at the paperless office (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455950)

The attitudes of the generation that tend to be in power, for one. They won't understand digital signing, many of them come from a legal background, they understand signatures on bits of dead tree, what they know about digital copies they've probably learned from Hollywood, so they think it's all being cracked and streamed directly to Wikileaks as they type. That's a tough mentality to break (hell, I work in a "trendy" digital agency and even here where everyone has tablets or smartphones stuff still gets printed out and scribbled on and passed around on paper).

Sooner or later someone will demand paper copies and then everyone will want paper copies. At that point all you've done is bought everyone an expensive paperweight. I also wonder if they've factored in the cost of replacing lost/stolen/broken equipment, buying peripherals (charge cables, keyboards, cases) and keeping all these things charged at all times (that's one benefit of a big stack of paper, once you've printed it it's no longer consuming power, the iPad does so not only every time you look at the document but even when you're not looking at it). Not to mention the lost man hours now everyone will have all the distractions of the internet with them whenever they go.

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456180)

They won't understand digital signing, many of them come from a legal background, they understand signatures on bits of dead tree, what they know about digital copies they've probably learned from Hollywood

I was about to say that that's a bit harsh, but, on the whole, it's - sadly - probably true.

If you need to fill in a form, what then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456126)

Do you sign it? Does the diffs get signed and added to the end?

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456002)

First, sooner or later someone is going to want a hard copy of a document, if only because a software copy can be altered and is impermanent.

This is a slightly silly reason. You're saying that if I print out a document, then it's more safe from being altered, since I can just change the digital copy. But if I print change the digital copy, I can just print out another altered version of the document.

You can keep a local copy of a document. You can even write-protect it and create a digital signature showing that it hasn't been altered. You can do document versioning to allow a document to be altered while preserving previous states.

Re:another try at the paperless office (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456234)

You can scan, edit and reprint a paper copy... You can bleach out the ink and reprint parts of it, you could just transcribe it and make a new modified copy...
A signature on paper is also totally worthless, its trivially easy to copy.

The trouble is, people have trust in paper and no trust in electronic devices, largely thanks to the likes of microsoft creating an impression among the general public that computers are always insecure and unreliable.

Re:another try at the paperless office (2)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456096)

Hard copy is useful sometimes, but there are MANY occasions when its simply not necessary... Not just in politics, but during daily working most people encounter printed documents that they read *once* and then discard.

I'm sitting in an office right now and can see notepads all over the place full of non-searchable handwritten notes, piles of paperwork that's not moved for months, post-it notes everywhere etc. Paper goes missing, gets damages, blows around in the wind, gets liquid spilled on it etc...
If you have one tablet instead of 200 pieces of paper your far less likely to lose it.

Not to mention the other inefficiencies...
Inefficient storage, all that space wasted...
Difficult to back up - photocopy every page? you probably should, what if your storage place burns down?

The sooner we move to the true paperless office the better.

they should use android tablets (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455586)

Android tablets are FREE (like stealing shit during a riot) and ugly (like their teeth). A perfect match.

Why Ipad? (2)

Maquis196 (535256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455596)

Not that I'm suggesting my very poor government tries to build it's own device but surely a tablet sized kindle would be better? Some of those documents must be pretty bug, surely e-ink is the way forward in that regard?

Am I just being naive?

Re:Why Ipad? (2)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455678)

>> Some of those documents must be pretty bug,

Some would say that pretty bugs are the currency of the iPad.

          -dZ.

Re:Why Ipad? (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455688)

Not that I'm suggesting my very poor government tries to build it's own device but surely a tablet sized kindle would be better? Some of those documents must be pretty bug, surely e-ink is the way forward in that regard?

Am I just being naive?

I'm sure you're right - but the cynic in me says that this is more about "what freebee can I get paid for by the taxpayer" than "what will be useful in doing my job". These iPads will get more use in playing "fart apps" in the house of commons bar and viewing porn in hotels than they ever do in the debating chamber.

Re:Why Ipad? (0)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455990)

Exactly. Why can't they just use cheap laptops? You can get functional, 2 year old laptops for dirt cheap, that will serve what these people think is their problem (I got myself a perfectly functional, fast, and loaded ThinkPad T61 for $300US recently). But when spending other people's money, why would you look at the price tag? It's government as usual, been that way for centuries.

Re:Why Ipad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455720)

Can the Kindle do everything the iPad can? No. That's probably why they're suggesting the iPad. It's more than just an eReader.

Re:Why Ipad? (1)

Maquis196 (535256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455758)

I agree... but aren't the government looking for a paperless office? If you need something that can do more then a kindle-esque device then either have an ipad or maybe just get a laptop?

Re:Why Ipad? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456004)

No, but Nook Color can do all the things that reasonably are necessary for work. At about half the cost of an iPad. And I'm sure that when the color version of Kindle is released that it too will be cheaper than an iPad.

Personally, I don't really care one way or the other as I don't own stock in any of the companies and don't pay the taxes that the pay for these devices, but it does strike me as a waste of tax payer dollars when a cheaper option is available.

Re:Why Ipad? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456172)

Can the Kindle do everything the iPad can? No.

Indeed. It can, however, do everything that a ream of processed cellulose from dead trees can. If I were a politician (perish the thought), I would much prefer to carry around an e-reader than the loads of paper that get shuffled around those offices.

For that matter, I would have appreciated such a device when I was doing my undergrad degree. All of my textbooks (biochemistry, molecular biology and microbiology) tended to be real monsters that were more usable when left at home. However, although time has moved on since then, the technology hasn't (much), and current offerings just don't cut it with publications including many coloured, detailed diagrams.

Re:Why Ipad? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455760)

I agree with you. Something like a big Kindle would be best, although maybe with an OLED rather than e-ink screen (color's kinda important). Most of the stuff the iPad has is not needed for this. It's like buying an Accord to get around inside a big warehouse when a bicycle or golf cart would do the job better.

Re:Why Ipad? (1)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456016)

I agree with you. Something like a big Kindle would be best, although maybe with an OLED rather than e-ink screen (color's kinda important). Most of the stuff the iPad has is not needed for this. It's like buying an Accord to get around inside a big warehouse when a bicycle or golf cart would do the job better.

As the other tablet manufacturers have shown, its not possible to put in the sort of features that you mention and beat the iPad on price. I did think of the Kindle as a better alternative to start with but after looking at the requirements it's pretty clear that there's nothing else on the market that will reliably do the job. Oh, don't ask for the government to build its own tablet, that's just a recipe for disaster, large cost overruns, and them buying an iPad in the end anyway.

Re:Why Ipad? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455904)

Not that I'm suggesting my very poor government tries to build it's own device but surely a tablet sized kindle would be better?

E-ink still takes too long to refresh (with that bizzare negative after-image effect) to support an iOS/Android style touch interface, without which panning and zooming around large PDFs, following hyperlinks, rapid skimming, annotating PDFs etc. is just too cumbersome.

E-ink rules for bedtime reading (long chunks of plain text in sequence) but for reference use with technical documents and hypertext - especially where it hasn't bee knidle-ized to render as re-flowable text, the slick UI beats the low-eyestrain display.

Plus, you can't use a Kindle to watch the cricket on iPlayer. All the Kindle has is an easter-egg "minesweeper" game (which would certainly lead to "Minister plays sick bombing game in Cabinet meeting - we ask mother of legless war hero what she thinks" headlines in the wonderful British tabloid press).

Re:Why Ipad? (1)

Maquis196 (535256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455974)

You do make some good points. I'm thinking more of a cost and very pure paper to e-ink swap (where you don't really have much in the way of new features, which means the devices are treated like paper rather then fancy moving laptops running powerpoint slides).

I'd see it as a, get a bunch of big kindle devices (which don't exist so it makes my arguement a bit thin) but I imagine the cost would be far less then the ipad. Then you see how that goes. Once everyone is used to having e-paper, then you can think about having advanced e-paper that can do what you suggest.

If youre only replacing paper, you cant really beat e-ink. It would be pretty good as a straight swap.

Justifying shinies (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455610)

And it just HAS to be an iPad. No cheaper, faster, better tablet will do. I am loving all these justifications we're seeing from different people as to why the iPad is the golden ticket they have been waiting for. Problem is no one is going to steal hard copy. People are going to steal iPads. No one will take hard copy home with them unless they absolutely have to (eugh who wants to do government work at home? I work from 9 to 5 only!). People will take iPads home with them, and they will be used by the wife and kids and family friends. Hard copy stays at the office, probably in a file somewhere. iPads will be traveling and vulnerable to being accessed by anyone - they seem to have a tendency to get left at bars.

And the government suddenly realized that it could do all this with $800 iPads but absolutely could NOT do it with $500 laptops. Just, wow. Tell me why we need government again?

Re:Justifying shinies (0, Troll)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455788)

I'm sure a cheaper, faster, better tablet would do if such a fondleslab actually existed, but I haven't found one yet.
I've seen cheaper slabs that are useless, more expensive slabs that are also useless, and the Samsung Galaxy Pad which is the same price and about the same in terms of performance.

Re:Justifying shinies (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456030)

They're looking for a way of replacing a stack of documents with electronic copies. The iPad is way more powerful than is needed and probably would increase the likelihood of people wasting time playing angry birds. Nook Color would fill that need without too much trouble at about half the price of the iPad. And I'm sure there are other options that are less expensive, yet serve the purpose, as well.

Re:Justifying shinies (1)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456252)

I've seen cheaper slabs that are useless, more expensive slabs that are also useless, and the Samsung Galaxy Pad which is the same price and about the same in terms of performance.

Samaung's tablet lines are called Tab, as in Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Re:Justifying shinies (1, Informative)

SolemnLord (775377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455804)

No cheaper, faster, better tablet will do.

Name me one cheaper, faster, better tablet.

Heck, name me that has two of those qualities.

Re:Justifying shinies (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456232)

Eee pad transformer. Better is subjective (it's better for me, but someone else might like iOS more, or think thinner and lighter is the most important thing), but cheaper and faster are objectively true.

Re:Justifying shinies (0)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455826)

um, aren't ipads $500? And way easier to hold like paper than a laptop?

Oh sorry, there goes your excuse for a raving lunatic rant. But feel free to follow up with more foaming at the mouth...because you know you can't resist.

Re:Justifying shinies (1)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456028)

So the government's first priority is their comfort, and not spending their tax payers' money effectively? Then they'll cry they need to tax the rich.

Re:Justifying shinies (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456056)

Yes, they're $500 and you can get a Thinkpad for $500 or two Nooks if that's you're thing.

Re:Justifying shinies (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456178)

and can you hold any of those like paper? Does nobody read around here anymore? Have you ever worked in a government office? Do you have any clue how much paper, toner, printers, maintenance, shredders, shredding services, disposal services, physical space, all of that costs?

Re:Justifying shinies (5, Informative)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456142)

Despite the summary being ipad only, the actual IT guy looking into this in the article is very clear that it's tablets in general.

Stupid, again (2)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455616)

You need both, online access _and_ paper copies. As soon as you want to mark and highlight, paper beats all other options by a large margin. iPads should be regarded as low-reliability, high-maintenance, read-only and possible insecure alternative for document access.

This is the stupid idea of somebody that did not even try to understand the issue. The paperless office is a myth.

Re:Stupid, again (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455734)

These are the issues I hit up against when trying to envision a paperless office.

I agree, there are some things that paper just plain does better. Marking up a document, taking quick notes at a meeting (I've yet to see something that beats a simple notepad for free-form note taking), objective evidence (digital files can be tampered and altered.. and while I suspect there are solutions, paper with someones signature on it still means a lot).

I think if we are ever going to get to a paperless office, it won't only be by making technology do the things we can do so well with paper, but it will be by re-thinking how we do things such that we no longer need the functionality paper provided.

How we actually do this is anyones guess.

Re:Stupid, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455900)

As soon as you want to mark and highlight, paper beats all other options by a large margin.

I'd be less certain - I mark up and highlight a considerable volume of documents on a weekly basis (personal study/interest, as well as for my job), and have switched to using an iPad running iAnnotate PDF. This was my use case for buying the iPad, along with reading books - for me, it has considerable advantage overall over paper, in that I can carry a lot of information with me without lugging box files around, that the information is backed up, and the information (including annotations and the like) are searchable both on the iPad, and when I'm using my laptop.

Previously, I'd had the advantage of digital over boxes of paper through a Sony eReader, but, whilst this was great for reading a novel, once one got used to the delayed page turn, it was not good for anything which required an annotation. Perhaps a Kindle would suit my needs, but I find the touchscreen of the iPad very easy to use. The two main problems are (a) it was expensive (although now a historic problem, since I bought it), and (b) a backlit screen is not ideal - I could read for longer from my eReader than I can through the iPad.

Overall, though, I find it a great tool for marking up and annotating - half way through studying my masters on my spare time, wherever I might be, without relying on paper...

Re:Stupid, again (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456146)

Posted again, after logging in...

As soon as you want to mark and highlight, paper beats all other options by a large margin.

I'd be less certain - I mark up and highlight a considerable volume of documents on a weekly basis (personal study/interest, as well as for my job), and have switched to using an iPad running iAnnotate PDF. This was my use case for buying the iPad, along with reading books - for me, it has considerable advantage overall over paper, in that I can carry a lot of information with me without lugging box files around, that the information is backed up, and the information (including annotations and the like) are searchable both on the iPad, and when I'm using my laptop.

Previously, I'd had the advantage of digital over boxes of paper through a Sony eReader, but, whilst this was great for reading a novel, once one got used to the delayed page turn, it was not good for anything which required an annotation. Perhaps a Kindle would suit my needs, but I find the touchscreen of the iPad very easy to use. The two main problems are (a) it was expensive (although now a historic problem, since I bought it), and (b) a backlit screen is not ideal - I could read for longer from my eReader than I can through the iPad.

Overall, though, I find it a great tool for marking up and annotating - half way through studying my masters on my spare time, wherever I might be, without relying on paper...

Nice (3, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455640)

if he got rid of all of a major government department's printers.

That's the only way to get to the "paperless office" ... remove the ability to use paper.

Keep any around, and it won't work. Lots of people with kick and scream and need to be drug into this. There are lots of things tablets and the like suck at that paper is good at. To move forward we have to find alternatives to those things that do work well in a paperless environment, but there are lots of people (I used to be one of them) who will decry that "your tablet sucks at " and use it as a reason to use paper.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455708)

Did you mean "dragged" or "drugged"?

Re:Nice (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455766)

Readers choice.

Pick whichever makes you feel happier inside, and go with it.

Have a great life!

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455926)

Sometimes ambiguity is the answer

--
Tsingi

Re:Nice (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455790)

if he got rid of all of a major government department's printers.

That's the only way to get to the "paperless office" ... remove the ability to use paper.

Keep any around, and it won't work. Lots of people with kick and scream and need to be drug into this. There are lots of things tablets and the like suck at that paper is good at. To move forward we have to find alternatives to those things that do work well in a paperless environment, but there are lots of people (I used to be one of them) who will decry that "your tablet sucks at " and use it as a reason to use paper.

It's a valid concern. Tablets and PCs are still horrible and inefficient to use. Even simple applications like reading a PDF book. Why the FUCK is it that in 2011 we still don't have user bookmarks as a standard feature in Adobe reader? That's just one simple example. The way to fix things is to actually address these issues BEFORE going paperless. That starts with software that isn't BRAINDEAD, buggy and cumbersome to use. If you take away the paper and force people to use the existing substandard apps that do not meet their needs their efficiency will just tank. People are right to keep hold of paper at the moment.

Re:Nice (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456078)

The single biggest problem with going paperless: It's way to easy and convenient to scribble on paper. Yes, many e-readers have some kind of ability to take notes, where you can select some text and add a carefully typed comment. Still, nothing beats a pen and paper for free-form note taking. I haven't seen a tablet that can handle crossing stuff out, scribbling notes in the margins, and drawing little diagrams in as simple and intuitive way as good ol' pen and paper.

Free? (2)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455642)

The British government is examining whether it could save money by getting rid of its printers and giving civil servants free iPads instead.

You keep using that word, I don't think you understand what it means. The sentence would have worked fine without it.

I fail to see where a government issued iPad is free. The article didn't use that word.

Re:Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455878)

Its "free" for the servants because they won't be raising costs of anything, sure they might already be paying taxes which buys the iPads but its more in the sense that there will be no additional fees or strings to getting the iPads.

Re:Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455942)

No, they didn't add an extra word, they left one out : range. These are free range iPads. They haven't been kept in cages in Cupertino where they are forced to give birth to their young, as the iPads in cages above them rain down iPad excrement. They're also allowed outside of their barn where they can stretch their 3g antennae and browse the internet.

.replace("iPad","tablet device"); (2)

Smigh (1634175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455666)

Maybe they should decide on the form factor before deciding on the manufacturer. It's like saying, "Hey, our staff could use some Toyota Yaris! It would cut down the time they spend using the bus!"

Re:.replace("iPad","tablet device"); (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455966)

Maybe they already have and you're just such a little fanboy as to be against anything with the name Apple on it?
 
Why does every Slashtard think that everyone else lacks insight into these issues?

Re:.replace("iPad","tablet device"); (2)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456218)

Yes, but honestly, they're going to go for iPads. Unless they have a need that requires something else, it's almost silly not to. They cost for the feature set (including "thin" and "lightweight" as features) is unbeaten, and they have, according to some estimates, over 70% of the market. iOS devices are dominant, and there isn't a better tablet with more widespread support available.

Getting an Android tablet right now is kind of like getting a Macintosh in 2001. Either you're doing it because you have a niche need, or you're not doing it for practical concerns.

iPad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455696)

How about they get a tablet other than the iPad and pay off the cost in 6 months instead of 18?

Re:iPad? (3, Funny)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455808)

Which one?

Samsung - Same price
Blackberry Playbook - Same price and it doesn't do email
LG - More expensive
Some crappy Chinese thing with a resistive screen

side by side (1)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455742)

You'll need to give them at least two tables, so that they can put at least two documents side by side.

Re:side by side (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455830)

This is probably one of the main reasons I still use paper/print stuff under certain circumstances.

Even with 3 monitors, nothing beats a huge table to shuffle papers around on and mark up when trying to design something complicated.

Rubbish idea (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455752)

The first guy to chuck his iPad at the opposition when he would usually have been waving his papers, going "RARRaarararrrrarararararar", will demonstrate the idiocy of the idea.

eBay ahoy! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455764)

Awesome :-) I look forward to a steady stream of cheap iPads appearing on eBay, ideally loaded with sensitive documents ...

1984 and the Ministry of Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455800)

Winston would welcome this as his job would be much easier.. He can simply update the original document, and when the users look again, boom, the new history would be already updated. This will surely help Big Brother eliminate Emmanuel Goldstein one final time.

Re:1984 and the Ministry of Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455998)

Eliminating Goldstein wasn't the purpose of Big Brother. If anything, Goldstein's existence worked for BB, the bogey man for the Two Minutes of Hate.

As a former Civil Servant in the DWP... (1, Informative)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455812)

I find it doubtful that the cost of printers is £400 (the price of a basic 16GB WiFi model) over 18 months per member of staff.

Also, handing out tablets poses a massive information security risk, They're already quite picky about who they give a laptop to, and for good reason!

Then again, the article does seem to be talking about DCLG. That's a comparatively small department; most people would consider a "major government department" to be something like DWP, HMRC or the Home Office. DCLG only has a few offices. Compare that to DWP where you've got hundreds of offices with a hundred thousand employees and it's easy to see how handing out iPads is less of a challenge for them.

This seems more like that prick Pickles trying to grab another headline.

Job loss. (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455818)

Think of the jobs.
First you have the people that make the paper. Then you have the people that sell and fix the printers, then you have the people that make and sell the ink, then you have the people that do the print runs, then you have the people that deliver the printout, then you have the people that collect the print outs, and then you have the paper recycling.
It will never fly. They will just add iPads as an option and still do all the printing.
If you don't believe me let me just put this in as proof.
Nimrod AEW, Nimrod MRA4, and A400m
Sir Humphrey: You see minister if we provide iPads and the printed records we shall have all the advantages of portability and the accountability of a paper audit.
PM: Do we want accountability?
Sir Humphrey: We like to say so.
PM: So we get all the advantages of increased efficiency with no job loss?
Sir Humphrey: Precisely Minister and paper is cheap just a few pennies a sheet and you can not put a price on accountability.
PM: Well that sound prefect.
Sir Humphrey: Yes Prime Minister.
Bernard: Sir Humphrey we spend three hundred million Euros a year on printing, supplies, paper, and personal. That does to be lot more than mere pennies.
Sir Humphrey: I never said how many pennies where in a mere.

Get rid of all paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455820)

Get rid of all paper and save the cost in 18 months. That sounds great.
Unless you do real world calculations and realize that you won't be able to get rid of all paper. Say you manage to get rid of 70% of the paper, and perhaps 50% of the printers. So now it will take perhaps 30 months to save the costs.
Then we have to take in to account the fact that people will lose, destroy or otherwise need to replace the iPads. So then we are up to lets say 40 months. And you need new IT staff to help with all the problems. So lets say 48 months.
Now after 3 years you realize that you need the new nifty features of iPad 6, but you still have 12 months left before saving any money.

Now a better idea would be to actually do some work and go through which people would save the most on switching from paper to ipad and give those the ipads instead. I bet you can find a few that could save the cost of the ipad within 6 months.
That way you will save the cost of all those people who will just put the ipad in a drawer and continue printing as usual.

Why an iPad? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455828)

Because they're cooler?

Wouldn't a Kindle do the same job, cost less, and have better battery life?

Re:Why an iPad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455978)

Almost any similar device would do the same job and cost less. Battery life could go either way.
The reason for the iPad (or any tablet(slate?)) over a Kindle (or most ebook readers) might be the desire for greater functionality. Pen input may be a thought (although the iPad lacks decent handwriting input because of its capacitive screen, but the decision makers may be unaware of that), and perhaps things like e-mail, accounting information, a full-featured browser..

Nicely introduced inflamatory bias there (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455850)

The British government is examining whether it could save money by getting rid of its printers and giving civil servants free iPads instead

And yet you didn't say they where "given" "free" printers, or "given" "free" paper, or "given" "free" ink/toner. Or chairs, or desks, or heating.

Now sure you can argue that choosing the iPad might be just picking the most trendy option rather than the best (in terms of costs and benefits). But instead you decided to inject the word "free" to try and bias the reader from the start. I assume you are paying the share of the building rent that your desk space/office space/whatever uses and your portion of the electricity bill too, rather then being "given" it for "free".

Seems an actual worthwhile use of tablets to me. It's almost all viewing, with almost no editing. The form factor is similar to paper so the existing setup won't need changing. It also makes for much better practical jokes by updating people's documents on the fly.

Myth of the paperless office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455854)

The paperless office is as likely to happen as the paperless bathroom.

The three seashells won't help when you have to blow your nose, either.

Potential HP irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455868)

With HP having dropped its tablet hardware, it wouldn't be in the running should the government adopt tablets., which would also mean, assuming HP printers are in use, HP would no longer be a printer or ink supplier.

That word doesn't mean what you think it means (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455886)

The British government is examining whether it could save money by getting rid of its printers and giving civil servants free iPads instead.

If Apple actually sold free iPads, that would be the big news and few people would give the British government's decision a second glance. As it turns out, though, "free iPads" don't exist (except as a spam filter rule), and if the government isn't getting directly billed for them, it's pretty much a sure thing that something nefarious is happening and they're costing people even more than retail price.

Please, think before you summarize. I RTFAed and there was not a word about free iPads.

Supporting iPads will be costly (1)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455924)

A task as simple as getting a signature or writing notes on a document and giving it to a colleague becomes a complicated endeavor. Then you have to coordinate with other paper offices somehow to make your business operations smooth.

Someone has to support all these complicated tasks and it will costs a lot more money than the initial $400 purchase.

Politicians using them? (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455958)

Well of course! Instead of mindlessly shuffling papers to look like their busy they can flick at the screen to appear as if shuffling papers while secretly playing angry birds!

Btw, I think it's a good idea. When I worked for the government I would have loved to have gotten rid of the bookcase of legislation, precedence, meeting minutes, errata, training documents, etc... that took up not only most of my workspace but for every single person working there as well. Having to pay for less office space and always having the latest legislation as well as operating procedures on hand would easily pay for itself regardless of the printers. As long as it's easily searchable and annotable it'd be fine.

2 Words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455976)

Electromagnetic pulse

Anything but iPads - no closed systems (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455980)

I do not think its a great idea for any government to buy into any closed system when alternatives exist. Yes the Android tablets are in their infancy but they can get better, especially when a need gives them purpose.

Savings in 18 months (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455994)

By that logic, he should be decking out staff with tablets costing half the price and he'll achieve the savings in 9 months. And the savings rack up since they're cheaper to replace when they're invariably stolen, broken, lost, worn out.

Of course iPads are The Thing to get and I'm sure MPs or civil servants want to be seen dead with a functionally equivalent, cheaper, more open tablet running a rival OS.

iPad life span (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456006)

18 months? What is an iPad's average life span? I would think the *average* wouldn't be much more than 2 years.

Our printers usually last 4+. Also to note, there are a lot less printers to have fixed, then iPads in that case.

You can also write on things you print. Not exactly the case with iPad documents.

I find this an extremely flawed argument.

It could work... (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456036)

But it depends on how the guy is calculating costs. Is he saying that if zero paper printouts were created, the investment would pay off in less than 18 months? If so, then he is not doing this correctly. If he is saying that it will reduce paper printouts by something like 50% (and he'd need a solid basis for the figure), then perhaps this is a good idea. A lot of people here on Slashdot are annoyed that they are looking at iPads - and I agree - what a waste of money, etc. On the other hand, the article isn't clear if that is their only consideration - must it be an iPad? It seems like they actually mean to be saying "tablet computer" (from the article) - but iPad now means "tablet computer" for a lot of people, unfortunately. Anyway, as long as they are calculating their return realistically, I think this would be pretty great.

Obligatory 1984 reference follows: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456050)

It's easier for MinTruth to keep things up to date when there's no hardcopy anywhere...

Touch-screen e-ink in our futures? (1)

erth64net (47842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456104)

If this idea takes hold, can we please see a decent touch-screen e-ink reader out there too? Something akin to the iPad's functionality, but with an e-ink screen...

This is just someones excuse to get free gadgets. (1)

Going_Digital (1485615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456188)

This is just someones excuse to get free gadgets. How will the politicians send letters to their constituents without a printer ? oh wait thy will still have a printer to run and maintain and as soon as they realise that reading on an iPad screen is uncomfortable they will start printing their documents again and the iPad will just get used to play Angry Birds on the tax payers dime.

Without a good EDMS this is wasted effort (1)

kb1 (1764484) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456196)

Sure, it's fine to refactor paper into bits and tout the benefits in terms of reduced capital expenditures, improved environmental impact etc., but without an electronic document management infrastructure that is widely adopted and intuitive for users it's not going to fly. Carrying my entire filecabinet with me sure beats having to pop back to my desk and rummage around for that all important bit of information, but what happens when I want to share it with you - how do I do that without breeding persistent duplicates (" just email me a copy") or forked versions ("email me your notes") all without having to be tech savvy? Perhaps this is a wonderful opportunity for an open source project like Alfresco or Knowledge Tree to step up to the plate and create an 'electronic print job' management engine. Some sort of central repository that uncouples the records management aspects from the traditional paper process metaphors, all delivered through an os-agnostic interface... True 'cloud printing', if you will.
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