Redefining government mobility

In order to provide citizens with the services they need, governments need mobile solutions that combine performance with freedom. Amber Stokes finds out how Intel is working closely with Microsoft to deliver this.

Amber Stokes
Amber Stokes
By Amber Stokes on 08 January 2014
Redefining government mobility

Do more with less’ has become a familiar term with public sector organisations right across the globe. Governments are trying to find ways of delivering better services to their citizens while keeping an eye on their ever-diminishing budgets. Gordon Graylish, vice president of Intel's sales and marketing group and general manager of the company's enterprise solution sales division, suggests that the growing pressure on governments isn’t just due to the fact that they have more people to serve today – it’s because citizen expectations have changed. “In their personal lives, citizens are used to being able to purchase a product online and see it arrive the very next day,” he explains. “So not only is there a demand for more services from governments, citizens also want them to be better, delivered faster and to wherever they are.” Graylish explains that historically, services were provided in large cities and anyone living in a rural area was expected to go to the city for a service. “This model is not just a disservice to people living in rural areas, but it also suggests to people that if they want to get good services, they have to move to the big city,” says Graylish. And this, of course, is happening today. The World Health Organization has recently reported that for the first time ever the majority of the world’s population lives in a city. But on top of these demands, citizens are also asking that governments deliver services to them in a way that is already familiar to them in their personal lives. “This is why mobile solutions can completely transform governments today,” says Graylish. “With mobile solutions in place, governments can tick all of these boxes by providing services based on a model that is agile and inherently easier to move to wherever the citizen is.” This trend is recognised by public sector organisations worldwide. Gartner found in its report Government CIO Agenda 2013: 'Do Better With the Same' that mobile devices and mobile workforce applications ranked in the top ten technology priorities in 2013 among government CIOs. “Intel has many examples around the world where governments are embracing mobility, partly because they can’t afford not to,” says Graylish. “I don’t know of any government increasing their budget currently. But a really successful way to deliver improved services to citizens, despite these cost constraints, is through mobile solutions.” Intel has been working hard alongside Microsoft for the last 38 years to understand the unique requirements of governments and their workers, and deliver tailored solutions that are providing real results today. “Intel and Microsoft have a very long relationship and I think we have been unique during that entire time in focusing on the requirements of the enterprise and governments, and driving a robust and secure approach to personal computing,” says Graylish. “We work collaboratively on technology developments by sharing our industry and technology insight in order to deliver better solutions and services. And we do this while constantly recognising our responsibility to deliver such services in a secure and managed way, but with the very latest capabilities in this new modern and mobile world.” One local government organisation that is taking advantage of the Intel-Microsoft relationship is the Information and Communications Agency (ICM) for Madrid in Spain. With around 6.5 million inhabitants, Madrid is the third largest city in the European Union and ICM is responsible for ensuring that its citizens receive continually improved services across the education, culture, healthcare and transport sectors. In order to achieve this, the back-office staff need to be able to make the right decisions to carry out their daily roles as productively as possible. This means they need access to information, even when they are away from the office. ICM therefore looked for a technology solution that would equip its workforce with mobile devices, enabling on-the-move knowledge sharing. The organisation tested an Ultrabook and an Asus tablet powered by Intel Core i5 vPro processors and running Windows 8. On receiving the devices, ICM wanted to evaluate the user experience and compatibility of its existing applications with the new devices. “Governments have invested millions of dollars in application development and most of these run on older versions of Windows,” says Graylish. “But such applications run seamlessly on Windows 8 devices, which is worth an incredible amount of value in the industry.” ICM’s findings following the trial were positive. Users were satisfied with the performance, start-up time, responsiveness and battery life of the devices. Because of these benefits, ICM’s workforce is able to deliver better services to citizens wherever they are located across the city. “Governments have an enormous number of mobile workers – from police officers, to ambulance drivers and census workers – and historically they have had a very arduous and extensive workflow,” says Graylish. Ordnance Survey in the UK is no exception. The organisation has recently worked with Intel to implement mobile devices to help improve the efficiency of its workers in the field. The organisation is best known for its paper maps – it produces approximately 650 different recreational and leisure maps that cover the entire of Britain. According to Ordnance Survey, even in this digitally-savvy age, it still sells around 2.5 million paper maps every year. But digital mapping data now accounts for around 90% of its business. In light of this, it reviewed the kinds of powerful and adaptable tools it would require to ensure its team of cartographers, scientists and surveyors could continue to analyse complex geographical data every day, and produce the most up-to-date and accurate maps. As well as keeping its workforce mobile, Ordnance Survey wanted to extend the workplace for its mobile users by enabling full access to its corporate library of software applications and document management system. Much like ICM in Spain, Ordnance Survey was also interested in seeing how the tablets could run applications that it already used and relied on for day-to-day business. Its specialist technical roles in mapping involve the use of a number of complex geographical information system (GIS) applications, including Esri and Pitney Bowes geospatial software. These multi-threaded applications benefit from an architecture that enables them to operate at peak performance, while Ordnance Survey’s central document management system, which is essential for employees to access and share mission-critical information, is only available on a Windows-based environment. For these needs, the organisation tested a Windows 8 tablet powered by Intel Core i5 vPro processors. The fast application performance of the tablets helped to improve its employees’ productivity, while the new touch functionality was found to be highly intuitive. Ordnance Survey is now considering how and where these devices can be most effectively deployed. As well as offering them to senior executives, the team also sees the sales team and anyone with a customer-facing role, as well as those involved in internal training, as being among the potential user group. Another organisation that is working with Intel is La Rioja government in Spain. It saw that many of its employees have very different working styles and computing needs, and many of them, such as social workers and hospital staff, spend a lot of time on the move. In order to maintain its reputation for taking an innovative approach to using IT to support successful government operations and services, the government sought a technology solution that would help it cut costs and improve quality of life for the population. La Rioja government turned to Intel to equip workers with high-performance, efficient mobile devices. Working with HP, Intel provided the government with an HP EliteBook Folio 9470m Ultrabook on which it conducted various trials and demos to assess the capabilities of the device’s various features. For example, a virtualisation demonstration using Windows 8 Pro showed that two virtual environments can be run on the same device – one with Windows 7 and the other with Windows 8. In this way, the user can run both a work and a personal environment on the same device. An Intel vPro platform demonstration also illustrated remote manageability features, which is an essential capability for government IT professionals. Mobile devices can be particularly beneficial for government workers with citizen-facing roles. “There is a wide range of people wanting to get services on their own personal devices, but in many cases, the people needing the services most are less likely to be able to take advantage of mobile devices,” says Graylish. “Intel has invested a lot in ethnography and research into how people interact with technology. Through this, we can see what might put off an elderly citizen, for example, or someone less educated. Our aim is to ensure that we allow as many people as possible to access technology. By doing this, governments can achieve their goals of providing better services to people no matter where they are.” Graylish explains that one of the major factors currently holding governments back from fully embracing mobile solutions is ensuring that the private citizen information they hold and share is protected from inappropriate use. “There has been a collision between the consumer world and the enterprise world. Traditionally, the enterprise always cared about cost, management, security and privacy. The consumer world, on the other hand, cared about ease of use, great experience, long battery life and attractive design,” explains Graylish. “What we have seen in the public sector is that as people have embraced mobility. But they have quickly recognised that many mobile devices don’t meet their needs for privacy and security and also don’t allow for easy IT management.” Graylish advises, however, that Windows 8 brings these seemingly opposing needs together on one platform. “Windows 8 combines the benefits that people have experienced from Microsoft’s 30 years of focusing on security issues and data management with a really exciting and ambitious approach to the mobile device. And it delivers it in a form that is as sleek, attractive and easy to use as any other consumer mobile device out there. “Typically, it is difficult to consume and manage data on mobile devices today. You have one application open at one time and they’re not quite compatible with data on the internet and on current applications, which means you see a distortion as you transfer files,” adds Graylish. “With Windows 8, you have multi-tasking capabilities that mean you’re able to securely store information and have different applications talking to each other – but importantly, you can do it in a way that means you don’t lose any usability.” While many government organisations are looking to implement mobile solutions, they all need something a bit different and, similarly, the employees within the different departments might also have varying requirements. “We don’t just offer desktop PCs and tablets. Because of the well-established nature of the platform between Microsoft and Intel, as well as other technology providers we work with, we are delivering a broad range of devices that meet the unique requirements of both the industry and individual,” says Graylish. “In healthcare, a clinician will want devices that are washable and have smart card readers, while police officers will want rugged and robust devices that they can use out in the field.” Graylish says that consumer devices don’t offer this much flexibility and individualisation. On many occasions, organisations have used mobile devices that haven’t matched their expectations because they haven’t been implemented with consideration for the employees’ workflows. “This is something we pay particular attention to, though,” says Graylish. “We look at each worker to see how they might use the device to ensure we implement the right one for their workflow. For example, if you implement a device that is too heavy or doesn’t allow the clinician to switch between multiple users, then the device won’t be efficient to use.” As more and more millennials come into the workplace, it is becoming all the more important for organisations to ensure that they implement relevant mobile solutions. “Young workers will simply not accept a new job if they are not provided with the right tools to do their job, and also the kinds of tools that they are used to outside of the workplace. What we’re able to do, because of the performance of both the operating environment and the device itself, is deliver a much more flexible solution that can separate the enterprise workspace from the personal workspace.” And while tablets are ideally suited for those highly mobile government workers who read documents, access the web and perform limited data entry, for most employees, these activities represent only 70% of their workload. For the other 30%, they would usually use a laptop. And that is why 2-in-1 devices are proving particularly popular today. “2-in-1 devices have only been out for a short time, but they have been phenomenally attractive and they are in proof-of-concept stages in organisations all over the globe,” says Graylish. “The reason they are popular is because they remove a real issue government departments have: how do I give my employees a tablet, which allows for access to information wherever they are, at the same time as providing them with a work horse? Very few people use a tablet as their only machine, so the 2-in-1 device allows workers to have a tablet when they want it and a laptop when they need it.” With so many new, innovative devices coming into play that people could only have dreamed of using a few years ago, it is hard to predict how they might evolve and what citizens and government workers will use in the future. One thing is for sure, though. “Intel and Microsoft are committed to continue developing intuitive, flexible and productive devices and solutions that are cost effective and provide individuals with all the tools they need to carry out their jobs to the best of their ability,” says Graylish.

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