Mayor and Town Council




Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager




Response to Request for Additional Information about the Proposal for Obtaining an Information Technology Needs Assessment for the Town of Chapel Hill




November 6, 2006





The purpose of this report is to provide additional information as requested by the Council on October 23, 2006 regarding the initial steps we are taking toward the development of a master technology plan for the Town of Chapel Hill. I will also outline the additional steps we recommend to initiate working discussions of a Town-wide wireless system.


In response to the discussion by Council and the acknowledged need to address wireless networking within the Town, I recommend a concurrent two-pronged approach as reflected in these recommended actions:



At the Town Council Meeting on October 23, 2006, I described the steps I have undertaken to begin the development of a master technology plan, including the establishment of a Staff Technology Review Team (Attachment 1). I noted that the assistance of outside resources would be needed to complete the initial phase of the process in a timely manner. I identified a company, RHJ Associates, Inc., which specializes in local government technology planning and requested authority to contract with that company to do a technology needs assessment (Attachment 2).


During the discussion of the proposal, several citizens and Council Members questioned the experience of the company with respect to wireless systems. The Town Council requested additional information regarding the proposal before making a decision.




There is a clear interest by Council Members and citizens in actively moving forward in planning for a wireless network.  There is also clear interest in developing a partnership with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to accomplish this goal. I have spoken with Vice Chancellor Mike Smith, Dean of the School of Government, and Vice Chancellor Dan Reed, Information Technology, about this potential partnership.  Both of them expressed strong support for such a joint effort and identified people within their organizations who could assist us.  We have also talked with staff at the North Carolina League of Municipalities who expressed an interest in working with the Town. Attachment 3 is a discussion of municipal wireless prepared by the company that assisted Winston-Salem in its wireless efforts. We can use that experience to guide us through our own process.


The technology needs assessment is a process that focuses on the Town’s government as an enterprise which delivers services to citizens. It is intended to identify the operations of the Town departments that either depend on information technology or would benefit from improvements or additions to the technologies in use. It involves the assessment of equipment, infrastructure, software, procedures, service contracts, and personnel. The outcome and recommendations will benefit all citizens but in an indirect way. The principal focus of the recommendations will be changes in Town procedures and systems for delivering the services to our citizens. Many of the proposed changes will fall within the purview and budget authority of the Council.


I believe the wireless initiative is a much larger undertaking than the basic needs assessment I have recommended. It involves a much more involved discussion with potential stakeholders, an in-depth market analysis, and a thorough review of potential wireless technologies. The needs assessment that I have identified for RHJ Associates focuses largely on operational needs and will provide one of the necessary inputs to the wireless initiative; namely the Town’s operational requirements and needs for wireless services.


To accommodate both of these processes, the development of a master technology plan and the exploration of the feasibility of a Town-wide wireless system, I believe we should move ahead with the needs assessment by RHJ Associates, Inc. and begin a concurrent process for the wireless initiative.


RHJ Associates Inc. has reviewed the comments from the October 23, 2006 Council Meeting and has revised their assessment proposal to better accommodate input from citizens regarding additional services that could be of value (Attachment 4). This revised proposal notes the assessment is not intended to study the deployment of a community wireless network; rather, it is intended to focus on town services and the potential improvements in efficiency or productivity that could be gained through the application of technology.


The assessment process proposed by RHJ Associates, Inc., will provide a baseline from which to develop a master technology plan. It will include considerations for wireless systems as related to governmental operations and services and thus can provide the municipal services needs assessment component of a wireless deployment initiative. The charge for RHJ Associates, Inc. would be to:


RHJ Associates has submitted a revised project cost of $40,155 to reflect the additional work required to conduct additional surveys and interviews. A portion of the cost of the project will be accommodated in the Information Technology Department budget. The remainder of the project costs would come from the Town Council contingency funds which would leave a balance of $30,208.


We will provide a progress report regarding the wireless system discussions in February 2007. We anticipate the needs assessment will be completed by April 2007, at which time we will determine the next steps in developing the master technology plan for the Town.



  1. That the Council adopt the following Resolution A authorizing the Town Manager to contract for a technology needs assessment with RHJ Associates, Inc., and enact the attached budget amendment.
  2. That the Council adopt the following resolution authorizing the Town Manager to enter into discussions with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Vice Chancellors for the School of Government and for Information Technology and staffs, and the Information Technology and Research staff of the North Carolina League of Municipalities for the purpose of investigating the potential creation of a Town-wide wireless system.


  1. Status of Master Technology Plan Development, October 23, 2006 (p. 7).
  2. Proposal for Obtaining a Needs Assessment for Developing a Master Technology Plan for the Town of Chapel Hill, October 23, 2006 (p. 15).
  3. Municipal Wireless Request for Proposal Best Practices – Civitium, LLC, July 2005 (p. 30).
  4. October 29, 2006 Proposal for Information Technology Needs Assessment by RHJ Associates, Inc. (p. 43).