Taking government to the people

The days of people making a special trip into town to work with government are, if not gone, certainly on the decline for many government functions.

The new way of operating is to send government employees out to meet the people.

Citizens approve, but leaving the desk for the field can add stress to employees’ lives.

Fortunately, technology can help cope with the stress and enhance effectiveness of the mobile employee.

Before mobile technology can reduce stress rather than adding to it, IT managers have to match requirements to needs. The proper configuration can take some thought. It’s going to be complicated, in most cases, by the fact that budgets are forever under attack, as government agencies and departments are called on to do more with much less. So in many ways, the proper configuration comes down not to “what is the best?” but “what is the best bang for my departmental buck?”

1. Battery

If government employees are going to be in the field all day, ensure they won’t end up scribbling notes at 4:30pm because their laptop battery died at 4.10. It’s less critical if the employees are unlikely to end up in locations without power, but there are few situations where it just doesn’t matter.

Battery life is often be tied to factors such as physical size and CPU power, but using it as a single-factor proxy for the other factors can be useful.

2. Memory

Few factors have as great an impact on system performance as memory. In most situations, a system with a slower CPU and a greater amount of memory will out-perform one with a faster CPU and lesser memory. In general, a more modest quad-core CPU loaded with memory will keep the vast majority of users happy.

3. Storage

Here, in most cases, speed trumps size in importance because you will want to move most data off mobile workstations and into the cloud or onto local servers as soon as possible.

Therefore, speed is important because in many cases there will be raw, private data regarding citizens and their activity on the disk. Full-disk encryption is a prudent practice, and it needs to happen quickly and reliably.

4. Build quality

This one is harder to quantify, but pick up a representative mobile example. Does it feel well made? Open and close the lid, and fully extend the hinges. Do they creak and seem on the edge of breaking even when new? Try to flex the machine—how bendy is it?

A reliable, rugged system that ticks the boxes on the “best buy for the dollar” list will keep employees happy, officials content, and budget watchdogs off your back. What combination could be better than that?