WashingtonExec reached out to executives in the community for their insights concerning bringing mobility to the federal government. Can mobility remain cost effective while being efficient, and how does it reduce cost for clients?
Today’s featured participant is Dr. Tom Woteki, Chief Architect and Senior Vice President of Strategy and Solutions at Acentia.
Dr. Tom Woteki:
Mobility: Increasing Productivity, Reducing Costs
How can mobility technology and wireless connectivity help agencies and organizations increase productivity, improve service delivery and reduce costs? We look at three examples how mobility technology applied to field service operations can deliver these benefits. For purposes of this discussion, mobility technology includes smartphones and tablets and the applications, or “apps” that run on them, location-tracking devices, mobile sensors, mobile printers and other like devices together with wireless connectivity.
Use of mobility technology has enormous potential to reduce the costs of field service operations in three key ways: 1) improving the productivity of agents in the field while speeding the flow of information from the field to headquarters operations; 2) enabling managers to direct field resources to locations or scenarios where those resources are most needed; and 3) tracking the real-time location of personnel and physical assets.
Improving Agent Productivity, Reducing Errors, Speeding Information
Agencies such as USDA and FDA employ field agents to inspect regulated facilities. EPA field agents inspect and test various facilities or locations such as waste sites or rivers and streams. A routine outcome of such inspections is a report that the agent must file. Apps on wireless smart devices can eliminate paper reports. The apps can ensure that complete and accurate reports are filed. Using built-in location awareness, the apps can ensure that the location of the facility being inspected is accurately noted. Error and completion checks can be performed in real time to ensure that complete and accurate reports are filed. If errors are detected, they can be corrected while the agent is still on the scene. Speeding the flow of information to central databases and managers enables real-time decision-making in the case of emergency operations.
Directing Resources to Where They Are Needed
In the reverse scenario, the flow of information from a headquarters location to field agents can facilitate redirecting resources from one location to another – thereby assisting in triage of critical needs and optimizing the application of scarce resources. Disaster response and recovery is an excellent example of this use case. Information such as maps, satellite photos, or even damage or injury assessments can be delivered to the field agent. Overall response effectiveness is increased with enhanced situational awareness, and resources are directed to where they are needed most.
Location Tracking, Chain of Custody
Tracking the location of personnel and physical assets are additional scenarios illustrative of the potential of mobility technology to reduce costs and increase productivity. A well-known use case is that of using RFID tags to track the location of medical devices in a hospital setting including such mundane devices as IV poles. Knowing where such devices are at any point in time assists in rapidly acquiring and delivering the device to a patient in need. In some cases, lives may be at stake. Chain of custody and remote sensing of environmental conditions is another more elaborate use case wherein mobile location tracking devices can reduce costs. For example, tracking the chain of custody of perishable products such as certain pharmaceuticals and the environmental conditions under which they have been stored are critical aspects of assuring their efficacy. Furthermore, with such products as pharmaceuticals, munitions, or nuclear waste, it may be critical to know their exact location at all times to ensure they have not fallen into the wrong hands.
Mobility-enabled operations can improve field service efficiency, reduce operating expenses, boost customer satisfaction and have an overall bottom-line impact on enterprise productivity.