Windows 8 devices and apps: reflecting public sector needs

Amber Stokes explores how Windows 8 devices and apps are meeting the demands of empowered public sector workers and citizens without compromising security

Amber Stokes
Amber Stokes
By Amber Stokes on 10 April 2014
Windows 8 devices and apps: reflecting public sector needs

This article was first published in the Spring 2014 issue of Touch

Nearly half of the world’s citizens will be using the internet by 2017, and almost two-thirds of that proportion will be using a mobile device, according to Forrester Research World Online Population Forecast, 2012 to 2017. With the consumerisation of IT, public sector organisations worldwide are starting to consider mobile solutions that meet the needs of both their ever-mobile workforce and empowered citizens. Public sector organisations need a mobile solution that is both flexible and secure, however.

Windows 8 devices and apps reflect these unique needs, providing rugged, flexible, secure, yet cost-effective solutions that benefit both the mobile workforce and citizen. “Another advantage of Windows 8 for the public sector is how seamlessly it bridges between the desktop and other devices,” says Russ Agrusa, ICONICS’ CEO and president. “We want to give our customers a consistent experience when moving to different devices, and by using a Windows 8 app running on a tablet, for example, they don’t have be trained to use it because it has the same look and feel as the applications they are used to – because it’s Microsoft.”

Agrusa adds that there is no compromise with Windows 8. While it is easy to use and offers improved flexibility for mobile workers, it is still a secure, enterprise-grade platform ideal for government, healthcare, education and public safety organisations.

Government

“Of the approximately 210 million government workers worldwide, only about one in six have desk jobs that keep them connected to their city’s IT network. About 175 million government workers –most, if not all, of whom have phones in their pockets –are off the IT grid all day and not receiving employee services,” explains Joel Cherkis, general manager, worldwide government at Microsoft. “By connecting these employees, governments can increase their day-to-day efficiency, deliver the services they need to thrive in their jobs – and help their city thrive as a result.” Cherkis says there are four steps that governments should take when considering their mobile strategies:

1) Ask workers what they need. Your police officers, bus drivers, park rangers and garbage collectors may not have city computers, but I guarantee they have cell phones. So ask what you can do for them to improve productivity and make their jobs better

2) Adopt new technologies and services. The goal is to enable employees to work seamlessly on any device. When you do, you also must manage and govern those devices to protect private data

3) Outfit your office properly. Your office spaces must change to support people who rarely spend time in the office. Enable employees all over your city to work together by equipping your meeting rooms with big screens, webcams and sound systems so they can host Lync or Skype meetings

4) Talk to your peers. Constantly look at what other cities have achieved, like the Ashburton District in New Zealand.

Healthcare

According to Microsoft’s Neil Jordan, general manager of worldwide health, tablet use in healthcare is going through a phase shift. “There was previously a lack of business-ready mobile devices, so the first phase was influenced by the trend of bring your own device, and was isolated to mainly doctors. They would take their own tablets into the hospital, but the IT department would struggle to manage them and integrate them with the overall workflow,” Jordan explains. “You would often find that doctors would use them for reference at a patient’s bedside, but then would have to go back to a PC to connect to the hospital’s system.”

But we’re now entering a second phase. Windows 8 and Windows 8devices enable a clinical-grade environment for any health worker, where not only do applications integrate with the overall workflow, but the devices themselves are designed specifically to meet the unique requirements of the healthcare industry. Key features of the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, for example, include a digital pen, which allows clinicians to make patient notes on the touchscreen, and multiple ID capabilities, which means if three nurses are working three eight-hours shifts, for example, they can all login separately on the same tablet securely. The Surface Pro2 is also certified for cleaning with sanitised cloths, which is essential in clinical environments.

“There are also multiple Windows 8 device sizes and types that are perfect for different uses,” adds Jordan. “For example, a pharmacy worker might prefer to use an eight-inch device like the Dell Venue Pro, which is great for filling in prescriptions and is small enough to fit in a lab coat pocket. While a doctor, on the other hand, might prefer a Surface.”

Windows 8 apps integrate seamlessly with hospital workflows. For example, Avanade’s Home Health app is being used in the home hospitalisation department at Paris Hospitals. It provides remote access from patients’ homes to the information systems used to manage medical records. Apps are also helping to support care beyond the borders of the hospital. MedCase, which was an International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners 2014 European App Cup winner in the B2B CityNext category, connects citizens and doctors in remote/rural areas and ensures a seamless flow of care and cure services and information in the country.

According to Jordan, through the use of Windows 8 and Windows 8 devices, the healthcare industry can achieve three things:

1) A better experience for patients, so that they’re more engaged and the information that is given to them is more personalised and more relevant –which ultimately results in better recovery

2) Higher efficiency and quality of care in and outside of the hospital

3) Increasing clinical adoption of healthcare IT.

Dell top five benefits for care providers:

1) TheVenue8Pro andVenue11Pro feature embedded security (trusted platform module 1.2) and comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act standards. TheVenue11Pro also includes an optional fingerprint and smartcard reader for keeping patient data safe

2) The Venue 11 Pro comes with a stylus and offers a peripheral ecosystem where customers have the option of adding a dock, keyboard, and a case with rotating hand strap, meaning healthcare workers have the flexibility to do work from a desk for a traditional PC experience, or as they’re moving from patient to patient both in the hospital or in the community

3) The Venue 8 Pro slides easily into a lab coat, folio or bag so clinicians can have access to information from anywhere they work

4) The Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro provide over nine hours of battery life to enable a nurse to carry the same tablet during an entire shift, while swappable batteries extend flexibility and reduce total cost of ownership

5) The Venue 8 and Venue 11 Pro include native support for wireless display or Miracast for wireless full-screen sharing during clinical reviews.

Education

“Mobility is on the increase in every sector. Security remains key as more data ‘lives’ in the cloud and improved all-day battery life allows users to be increasingly mobile,” says Mei-ling Wong, marketing manager for ThinkPad Tablets at Lenovo. “Students are frequently moving from class to class, often campus to campus, with little or no access to power outlets. Extended battery life allows them to concentrate on their studies rather than where their next recharge will be.”

Seton Hall University, based in New Jersey in the US, has circulated more than2,000 ThinkPad Helix devices running Windows 8 to all incoming undergraduate students as part of its Mobile Computing Program. “Tablets are becoming increasingly common in the classroom and at work. With the explosion of multi-mode devices, users require a single solution that allows them to adapt to their ever changing study or work environment,” says Wong. ”We create solutions that offer not only ultra-portability and multi-mode versatility, but also the experience of a full PC so that users don’t feel they are having to compromise on productivity.”

“The Lenovo ThinkPad 8 tablet delivers enterprise-class mobile computing with the ability to offer desktop PC-like usage with up to eight hours of battery life,” adds Alysia Baker, Lenovo’s ThinkPad product marketing manager. “We design devices with the end users in mind, which means the ThinkPad8 is the best of both worlds. The device is perfect for at work and at home.”

Dell top five benefits for educators:

1) The Dell Venue 11 Pro is essentially three devices in one. The 10.8-inch device combines the portability of a tablet, the power of an Ultrabook and the convenience of keyboard and docking options

2) Compatible with existing IT environments and software, schools won’t have to reinvest in new infrastructure or software licenses. The Venue11Pro can be shared among many students to maximise the value of the tablet

3) The Dell Venue 11Pro can be used by multiple users and configured with their personal settings, delivering flexibility for budget-conscious schools, and allowing students and teachers to collaborate with one another throughout the day

4) With the Venue 11 Pro, schools can decrease deployment and device management costs by leveraging existing solutions for supporting, managing and protecting their current Windows PCs and laptops

5) The Dell Venue 11 Pro has enhanced productivity features for both students and teachers including a stylus for note taking, a standard-sized USB port and a Micro-SD card reader for easy file transfer and connectivity to existing and common classroom equipment.

Public safety

“The need for police forces to have access to real-time (or near real-time) information is ever increasing with explosive urban growth. At the same time, austere budget climates continually stretch law enforcement resources, causing police organisations to seek new ways to enable effective police operations on duty,” explains Martin Slijkhuis, public safety and national security industry lead, Microsoft Western Europe. “In addition to supporting their expanding daily responsibilities, large worldwide events will require on-demand intelligence for crowd control, counter-terrorism prevention, and emergency response on the front lines.”

Military, law enforcement and first responders are increasingly turning to mobile devices to access the tools they need for better situational awareness and connectivity in theatre and in the field. Many defence organisations are starting to rollout mobile strategies to meet these needs, including the US Department of Defense, which unveiled its Mobile Device Strategy in 2012 with the intention of maximising the productivity and flexibility of its mobile workforce through better access to mobile devices, wireless infrastructure and mobile applications. The New York Police Department is carrying out a pilot using Windows8 tablets running its Domain Awareness System, to help them collect relevant data wherever they are prior to responding to a 911 call. Similarly, Iceland Police has deployed 70 dockable HP Elite slates running Windows 8 in70 of its police cars. Police officers use the devices to manage the reporting of traffic violations while out in the field. By inputting the data in real time and supporting both person and car identity verification, the time to complete the process is cut by 30 minutes. Iceland police will be increasing the deployment to 400 of its fleet.

“Mobile devices of the future–both commercial-off-the-shelf and ruggedised for special conditions –will enable real-time, intelligence-driven police forces in the 21st century. As mobile policing continues to evolve, this fast, efficient and reliable back-office police work will serve an even more critical role to frontline officers on duty,” concludes Slijkhuis

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