How Mobile Wi-Fi Aids the Public Sector

Public transit and healthcare agencies benefit from broadband access on the go.

In today’s mobile world, a loss of connectivity is equivalent to wasted productivity. Americans increasingly demand broadband for checking social media accounts or sending emails. Consequently, mobile Wi-Fi on public transit is an amenity that riders actively seek. More than 70 percent of commuters who use public transportation carry a mobile device, and broadband access helps make an otherwise mundane commute more attractive.

Similarly, the healthcare industry is seeing a rise in connectivity demands. Healthcare providers are scrambling to meet the looming 2014 deadline set in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which requires all public and private healthcare providers to adopt and demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic medical records or risk losing Medicaid and Medicare funds.

Mobile Wi-Fi has proved to be useful for streamlining and improving patient care. With innovations in emergency-response Wi-Fi, healthcare workers and other first responders can access resources anytime, anywhere.

Riding in Style

The ability to stay connected to the Internet has affected how people travel, especially given the advances in mobile technologies. In hopes of increasing ridership, many public transportation companies now cater to their technology-dependent customers by providing free Wi-Fi services and power outlets at every seat. Worth noting, technology use rose 16 percent among bus riders and 12 percent among commuter-train passengers between 2009 and 2011, according to the 2011 DePaul University report “Staying Connected En Route: The Growing Use of Tablets and other Portable Electronic Devices on Intercity Buses, Trains and Planes” by Joseph P. Schwieterman, Ph.D., Lauren Fischer and Marisa Schulz.

In the 2011 PC World article Wi-Fi on Buses and Trains: Better Service Ahead, Paul Kapustka shares, “Wireless services are benefiting from innovation that can dramatically cut costs — or even eliminate costs — to transit providers, while also dramatically improving wireless connection speeds.”

Emergency Response

In the past, first responders were able to gain vital information only through the dispatch system. In an industry where every second counts, emergency workers can’t afford to wait. Thanks to innovations in wireless communication and mobile Wi-Fi, dispatchers can instantly send information to emergency workers in a text message, locate workers via GPS and instantly download images.

Today, first responders use emergency-response Wi-Fi to upload video feeds, locate vehicles and send information. For example, an EMT crew can use Wi-Fi to receive or transmit a patient’s medical information. According to Government Technology, Rowan County, N.C. is leveraging this technology.

Rowan County installed wireless communication platforms in its 11 ambulances within the county’s Emergency Medical Services Division so responders taking an individual to a hospital can transmit a patient care report to the facility prior to the ambulance’s arrival at the hospital, said Frank Thomason, the county’s chief of emergency services. The communication platform provides a Wi-Fi access point in the ambulances, making them function as mobile hotspots. Using laptops inside the ambulances, emergency responders fill out a patient care report and with the assistance of the communication platform, the information is transmitted wirelessly to the hospital.

In addition to using Wi-Fi in the medical field, emergency workers use mobile platforms in lieu of paper-based reports, allowing others to access and update the reports instantly.

With innovations in business models, higher bandwidth capabilities and lower costs, people have only seen the beginning of what Wi-Fi can do for the public sector. As Wi-Fi demands increase across industries, those who aren’t on board will find it hard to compete.

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Apr 22 2013