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Belfast councillors to vote for new hi-tech package including better mobile than Donald Trump

By Rebecca Black

Belfast City councillors are expected to vote to get their hands on a haul of top of the range electronic devices - including a smartphone even more advanced than the one US President Donald Trump uses.

Councillors will receive their choice of an iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S7, an HP Elite x2 computer and a wireless printer.

Kitting out all 60 councillors is estimated to cost at least £80,000, based on UK recommended retail prices.

By comparison, US President Donald Trump reportedly still uses his personal Samsung Galaxy S3 - a model released almost five years ago.

Belfast councillors were issued with a Blackberry, a desktop PC and monitor or laptop and a printer in 2011. They also received iPads in 2012 as part of a council effort to cut the amount of paper used.

However, the council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee heard at a meeting last Friday that nine different makes and models of smartphones are currently supported, and that they aim to standardise the phones issued by the council.

The committee heard that Digital Services had recommended HP Elite x2 laptops as a powerful lightweight device which can be used either as a laptop or tablet, replacing the need for both a laptop and an iPad. They will make the iPads which were issued in 2012 to councillors redundant.

It also heard that the IT package offered to councillors has been revised since the council's acquisition of Office 365. This includes features like Skype For Business and enable improved document sharing, as well as one TB of data storage, documents being retained even if devices are lost and additional security.

A report noted that since the last IT package update in 2011, the range of equipment supplied to members has become more diverse.

"To ensure the council continues to remain at the forefront of advances in technology, Digital Services entered into a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement," the report says.

"This provides access to the rich features of Office 365 which have the potential to deliver a more social, mobile, accessible and information-driven work environment."

The report must be approved by the next full meeting of Belfast City Council next Wednesday. The roll-out of the new equipment, if approved, is scheduled to begin in March.

It has been estimated to save £565 per councillor.

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