Fast-tracking mobility management beyond business

How cities, schools, police and businesses are changing how they manage their mobile devices in response to the global pandemic

Few organizations have experienced a disruption at the level of the novel coronavirus, and it goes beyond the economic challenges of private enterprise.

Public sector services including schools, police forces, health care providers and city governments have all been forced to rethink their operations to continue serving the public. The sudden formation of a massive remote workforce has brought unexpected challenges.

Businesses have a greater need to know how workers are using devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and servers outside the office. The need is greater than ever to ensure teams have secure, uninterrupted online service to continue to effectively do their jobs from the business device they choose.

There is good news, too…

Fortunately, these aren’t new challenges. Remote work has been around for a while and technologies and processes designed to help organizations effectively manage remote, geographically separated staff already exist.

What has changed is the global at-home workforce. Business disruption inspires new processes and the adoption of new technologies; in this case, we’ve seen the increase in remote work accelerate the adoption of new mobile device management tools in a number of areas, including the public sector.

Here are three examples of how the right enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution is keeping government and emergency services online during the crisis, and how they’ll continue to prove valuable once the pandemic has passed.

Ensuring devices are used as intended

Once mobile devices have been assigned to users, managers need a means of ensuring they’re used as intended and data isn’t being consumed for non-business applications. The best way to do this is to manage and monitor device usage through EMM.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Education moved to provide students with remote learning solutions as part of their Learn at Home program. This included providing devices and a data plan tailored for schoolwork.

In response to concerns that students might end up using their devices and shared data for non-school-related activities, (streaming Netflix and playing Fortnite), participating Ontario school boards enlisted the help of  Apple, VMware and Rogers to provide a solution that tracks device and data usage to ensure learning remains the top priority.

With this solution, Ontario school boards were also able to set parameters around the type of applications accessible on the devices being distributed.

This same technology is used by businesses to keep remote teams productive. And it’s proving effective not only for teachers and their students but also within other areas of the public sphere. Children in high-risk situations during home isolation have a means of staying in touch with councillors and mental health professionals—just as important as access to schoolwork and study groups.

Ensuring reliable communication in times of need

Dependable communication between workers who are dispersed (and just as often on the move) within a single building has proven vital during the pandemic. Hospitals and health care workers depend on timely information and alerts wherever they are.

Rogers has partnered with BlackBerry to bring these workers the BlackBerry AtHoc Crisis Communications System, a powerful tool to quickly disseminate information to set groups of workers. Managers can send mass notifications to an entire group, or a select few and have access to the information they need to make informed decisions.

From dispatching essential equipment to calling in additional workers when needed, AtHoc is a mobile solution that even facilitates collaboration between remote workers in partner organizations.

As we shift to a phased return to “the new normal” and beyond, it’s easy to see how mobility management will continue to prove useful. Whether it’s an all-hands call for a large medical emergency or EMTs communicating vital data from the scene of an accident, being able to manage communications from any mobile device saves time that can be better spent saving lives.

Prioritizing data traffic as needed

A crisis can lead to unexpected surges in data and cellular traffic, which might prove disastrous if the very people who need to communicate most. Prioritizing data for emergency workers is a crucial facet of any EMM solution designed for frontline staff such as police, firefighters and EMTs.

That’s why tools like NetMotion, a mobile virtual private network (VPN), have been gaining traction as the pandemic wears on. The Toronto Police Service, for example, uses NetMotion to ensure officers patrolling the streets can always access the apps, information and tools they need (from criminal records to video calling) by providing a secure, prioritized data connection even in areas with poor cellular signals.  

Once the pandemic is over, prioritized traffic is bound to continue to prove useful to frontline workers at key moments, such as sporting events, parades and in rural settings.

Adopting an EMM solution to manage during the current crisis also means being prepared for the future. With end-to-end management of applications and devices, businesses and social services alike will be better equipped to provide effective service on a day-to-day basis—whether those are “normal” days or ones with significant challenges.

To learn more about how your organization can leverage enterprise mobility management, contact one of our representatives.