For a government to be close to the people, it often must work side by side with them in the field. While mobile technology has long been available, at no time have wireless devices been as powerful and connections as robust as they are now.
At Chesapeake Employers' Insurance in Maryland, workers can select one of three different Lenovo or Toshiba notebook models, including a convertible device. "This gives our employees the flexibility to choose which of the three devices best fits the department or employee's needs," says Scott Trickett, information systems director of infrastructure for Chesapeake Employers'. In their role of administering workers' compensation insurance in the state, mobile and remote employees stay connected through Microsoft Lync–enabled phone calls, video conferencing sessions, instant messaging and shared desktops.
In Massachusetts, the Lowell Police Department downsized from rugged notebooks to Apple iPad devices to boost portability and ease of use. Craig Withycombe, the officer in charge of the department's IT group, says the tablets provide officers with a single view of all the information they need. "We're getting more accurate information in an expedited fashion, and that's tremendously important when our officers respond to a call."
In the Air
Those devices and apps aren't of much use without reliable connectivity, however, and Wi-Fi has fast become something users view as a basic utility. In addition to deploying wireless networks to mobilize staff, localities now provide that underlying infrastructure for their citizens.
Libraries in particular play a vital role in furnishing broadband, serving as a sort of community hotspot. "There's a whole category of people who can't afford the Internet," points out Anne Savoie, systems and networks supervisor for Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing. C/W Mars recently helped the Palmer Public Library roll out new Cisco Aironet wireless equipment to boost bandwidth and support more devices on the network.
Commuters in King County, Wash., can make the best of the ride by multitasking with their mobile devices. Some county buses outfitted with CradlePoint wireless gear can handle up to 64 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections.
To learn more about how notebooks, tablets, apps and Wi-Fi enable connected government, check out the rest of the issue.