June 21, 2013 By Sarah Rich
To increase safety and visibility for city employees who perform code and zoning regulation enforcement, Memphis, Tenn., deployed a new mobility tool earlier this month to track locations of workers out in the field at any given time. The app, which can be accessed using smartphones and tablets, records the time and the worker’s location so departments can keep track of when and where an employee is performing a work order.
The Mobile Workforce Management App, developed by Xora and powered by AT&T’s network, features built-in GPS and has a Web-based management component that allows supervisors and logistics managers to see where the field workers are on an online map, according to Xora spokeswoman Patty Harper.
Michael Jones, deputy CIO for the city of Memphis explained that years ago, a county inspector was killed while on the job, so utilizing a mobile app for locating employees adds an extra safety precaution for staff people performing inspections in the field.
“They’re going into hazardous houses or areas when they’re doing inspections, so we just want to make sure they can continue on their route throughout their day,” Jones said. “You have geo-fencing that’s been developed for each inspector, so if they fall outside of their fence or the device falls outside of their fence, that does alert us and if they don’t move after a certain time, that would be an alert for them to be checked on.”
Inspectors can also use the technology to access mobile job order forms, clock in and clock out, submit photos taken on the job and report on other job duties. According to Harper, other cities including Chicago, Baltimore and New York City have adopted the technology for similar workforce operations, particularly for employees involved with field service like waste management and transportation.
Jones said nearly 50 Memphis employees involved in code inspections are now connected to the workforce management technology, and the city plans to expand the solution to other departments that perform field service in the near future. The city did not pay any upfront costs for the solution, however, it does pay a $24-per-month service fee.
Harper said the app and Web-management technology helps wean city workers off outdated, paper-based processes typically performed on clipboards.
“It is their productivity tool,” Harper said. “It’s their blast-out-of-the-past [tool] because they can do so much with it.”
Photo from Shutterstock.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.