- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The bucket raises Jeremy Hoegemeyer to the spot where his bosses are considering putting in a traffic-monitoring camera.

From his perch, he Facetimes his boss at the office and points the iPad down 10th Street to show exactly what a camera will pick up.

In the old days, Hoegemeyer would have taken pictures, then driven back to the office to show them to his boss.

And if that particular location wasn’t satisfactory, Hoegemeyer might have driven the boom truck back to 10th and M to take pictures from the other side of the intersection.

This Facetiming episode is an atypical, if fun, way to use modern technology, but Hoegemeyer uses his iPad every day, all day long, in his work as a traffic signal technician for the city.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2dOZy2o ) reports that his daily work schedule is on the iPad. He can pull up maps of the conduit system at an intersection before he begins work at a location, showing all the electric wires and cables underground.

If a signal isn’t working, he can pull up Lincoln Electric System data to see if there is an outage at that location and find when it might be fixed. With this information he knows whether he needs to bring in barricades and stop signs or just wait it out.

Hoegemeyer’s iPad replaces dozens of pieces of paper and dozens of phone calls necessary in the pre-tablet workdays.

“We’re not fully paperless yet, but we are getting close,” said Lonnie Burklund, traffic engineering manager.

Like many other city workers, Hoegemeyer is equipment laden. He carries his iPad, plus two smartphones tucked in two different pockets of his work pants — one for city business, the other his personal phone.

City leaders recently released new regulations that cover the use of the hundreds of city-owned devices, including iPads, other tablets, cellphones and smartphones.

The rules cover private use and privacy issues.

Employees can use the city equipment for personal use “within reasonable limits,” which means it cannot result in loss of work productivity, interfere with official duties or result in additional expense to the city.

And city employees do not have a right of privacy while using a city-owned electronic device, nor while using their private phone for city business, according to the rules.

The need for clearer rules came up during several court cases, where the city had to provide text messages, and a personnel matter, where a city employee was doing a lot of shopping and personal business on city time, said Jeff Kirkpatrick, city attorney.

Staff determined the city did not have a good way to save text messages, and there was no citywide policy covering the new technology.

The policy had nothing to do with state Sen. Bill Kintner, who used a state computer to have cybersex with a woman, or with Hillary Clinton’s use of her private server for official business emails when she was Secretary of State, said Kirkpatrick.

The new policy puts employees on notice that text messages are public documents, including text messages related to public business on private phones, he said.

Though individual departments had rules, there was no citywide policy covering the most modern electronic equipment. The policy for laptops dated back 19 years to the administration of former Mayor Mike Johanns, Kirkpatrick said.

There is no central source of information on the number of city-owned devices, but there are certainly more than 1,000.

For example, Public Works and Utilities has 109 laptops (57 for field use); 27 data hotspots, used to connect devices without a built-in modem in the field; 82 cellphones; 43 iPads and 135 smartphones.

The city-county Health Department has 34 tablets, 43 iPads, 23 laptops (eight mounted in trucks), 44 cellphones and 23 smartphones, used in a variety of ways.

Tablets and laptops are used for restaurant inspections. Animal control officers, sent out to investigate a reported dog bite, will soon be able to look up an animal’s history from new truck-mounted tablets.

The Building and Safety Department has 25 iPads (used primarily for inspections in the field), nine iPhones (used primarily by top managers to access emails throughout the day) and 26 flip phones.

In pre-tablet days, police Capt. Danny Reitan had a flat table on a suction cup, attached to the dashboard of his patrol car, providing a flat surface where he could write a note on information radioed to him — address, the issue, the names of people he was to contact.

Now that information comes through computers mounted in each cruiser, equipment so sophisticated the officer can hook into the National Crime Information Center.

In addition to the mounted computers, some police cars now have bar code readers. Insert a driver’s license and it will automatically search for warrants and other information.

In some cases, the latest in equipment can solve problems quickly.

Say someone finds a World War II memento, a shell or hand grenade, while cleaning out a relative’s house, says Bill Moody, chief fire inspector.

Moody can snap a picture with his iPad, send it to the military and quickly get a response on what it is and how to safety handle it.

As equipment ages, departments often find new equipment even more useful. The Health Department’s Maternal Child Health program transitioned from laptops to iPads over the last year, allowing staff to use the device in homes with poor or no Wi-Fi.

Kayla Roth, a nurse in the program, finds her iPad comes in handy during almost every visit with a client.

Roth, who works with moms before and after they give birth, can pull a housing application for a client who is looking for an apartment, or a list of food pantries.

If she recommends counseling, she can look up the address and a picture of the counselor.

And sometimes a short video is better than a thousand words.

Rather than drag along a portable DVD player, she has the best educational clips and videos bookmarked on her iPad.

So she can show an expectant mom a video about the benefits of breast feeding or a how-to-breast-feed video — with clips of a good latch and a bad latch — rather than try to explain it in words.

Once Roth located a short video on how the kidneys work for a Spanish-speaking mom, who had specific health issues. Although the health department has translators, the video was an easier way to make sure the woman better understood the health problems.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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