As technology continues to revolutionize the way that public works departments conduct their day-to-day operations and business, they must consider which hardware and software solutions are worthwhile, and which will not net a return on investment (ROI). Here are four important factors to consider before choosing a mobile technology solution:
What is the service like throughout your public work areas? If you have excellent service and a strong internet connection, then a suite of fully integrated apps that can record and upload data in real time may be the best solution. If service is spotty, fickle or completely unavailable, then you may want to consider investing in apps that do not actively require an always-on connection to function. These apps would allow field crews to record and store all of the data they need while working with no connection. Once the crew returns to an area with service, the data will begin uploading to the central database.
Which form of mobile device would work best with your crews? With tablets, you can more easily navigate both mobile-based apps and web-based programs. In addition, there is a larger display to view and enter more data at one time. However, tablets can be cumbersome when compared to mobile smart phones. If your crew constantly needs the device with them but is unable to easily wield it, a phone may be the better option. If they have spare hands, or if they only need it in their vehicles, a tablet may be the more efficient option.
What sort of streamlined services is your IT department capable of supporting? If every computer in your department and across your jurisdiction is running Windows, then Windows mobile devices may work best. If your IT department is willing to provide support for users to run whatever platform they would like (iOS, Android, Windows etc.) then you have more leeway in your final decision. It’s important to note that if your IT department will support multiple operating systems, implementing a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution to manage deployment of specified apps across several users or devices can help. Or, supporting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy may be the most efficient for your department.
It would be difficult to invest in anything without first considering the cost. Both tablets and phones cost money to procure and support, and phones generally also require additional services. If your department has, or plans to have, a strong internet connection across all work zones, you may be incurring additional costs for air cards, or hot spots. Do your field crews already have department-issued phones for safety, or will all of these devices be purchased new? If air cards and department-issued phones are not practical, then tablets may work best for you.
Regardless of your ultimate choice, you should consider these four factors before investing in a mobile technology for your work crews. AssetWorks Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software was designed to provide public works departments with the tools, convenience and accessibility they need in order to succeed and notice an enjoyable ROI.