Trend Alert – Dropbox and Similar Cloud Services

We’ve been notified of a trend happening, and no, we’re not talking colored denim and tribal prints!  We’re talking about Dropbox, a cloud-related service where your photos, documents, and videos are stored virtually and can be accessed from your phone, computer, laptop, or reader.  Why are people flocking towards Dropbox and similar cloud services?

  1. Simplicity.  Work from any computer or internet device and your work is automatically saved to the cloud.  Files are never unintentionally lost, moved, or stored on the wrong devise.
  2. File Sharing. Because everything is stored in this virtual space, there is no need for CD’s, USB drives, or emailing of files for future access. This means you can start working on your laptop, and finish on your desktop without ever having to transfer the files.
  3. Data Backup.  Having all data stored virtually means that if that cup of coffee fries your laptop, your files are still protected and accessible.  All files and versions are instantly archived so you can recover lost, missing, or accidentally trashed files with the click of a mouse.
  4. Access.  Files can be accessed anytime, anywhere, from virtually any device, and by anyone with secure access.
  5. Simplified Sharing.  With special file-sharing options, you can grant access of various files to co-workers, students, teachers, family, and friends. It’s as if you “dropped” the file right into their computer.

Because file sharing and updating is instantaneous, and happens on all devices, you will never be caught with an old or outdated version of your document.  A save on a single device transfers the updates to all your devices, as well as on the Dropbox website, which can be accessed (with login) from anything with an internet connection: your work computer, a computer lab computer, a friend’s computer, or internet cafe’ computer.

Why are more and more city clerks relying on technology like the Cloud and Dropbox?  In a recent conversation on the City Clerk Cafe, a LinkedIn Group for city clerks, the following benefits of cloud storage were noted:

  • The ability to go paperless. Agendas and meeting packets can be updated instantaneously and downloaded using devices such as iPads, smart phones, or laptops.  This helps make sure everyone is reading from the same version and cuts down on paper waste.
  • The ability to quick reference.  With all your files and information accessible from portable devices such as iPads, each person has access to documents, pictures, and notes for quick reference during meetings.
  • Cost savings.  Less paper and less copies means less time and money spent copying, downloading, and printing documents, saving city workers thousands.
  • Annotations.  Because files can be shared with coworkers and council members, updates, notes, and annotations can be made and instantaneously shared with everyone who has access to the files.  So instead of sending out revised meeting minutes, revisions can be made on the spot.  Check out services like iAnnotate for more information.

If going digital with your docs sounds like good practice for improving efficiency in your office, we encourage you to find out more about the services offered in cloud storage and file sharing. For more on this discussion and how city officials are going digital, check out the City Clerk Cafe on LinkedIn.

Your Turn!  Have you gone digital in your office?  Are you utilizing services such as Dropbox, the Cloud, or iPads?

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