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Fife council has pushed ahead with its mobile working plans by issuing building services staff with Motorola-built handheld devices to receive job instructions.

A number of frontline staff have been using mobile phones to receive information for carrying out scheduled repairs and maintenance in council homes and non-domestic properties over the past two and a half years. The council said that although this has led to an increase in productivity, with more jobs per person completed daily, using mobile phones still required significant manual input.

"It [mobile phone solution] allowed the council to try the concept of a mobile solution and demonstrate some frontline benefits, but it requires a larger back office support to run with back office staff taking verbal information from the operative and inputting into back office systems," Allan Barclay, service manager for building services at Fife, told Guardian Government Computing.

"The full solution would capture data inputted direct from the frontline device capturing job info and time management and removing the need for manual involvement."

Fife hopes that by using handheld devices with increased functionality, it will improve information management, as it will be moving away from manual data input to using an automated real time system.

The plans form part of a programme at the council to deliver mobile working across a number of services, with the roll out of handheld devices being one of the first strands of the project.

Fife procured the technology for the initiative in two parts: the scheduling tool that is being used is XMbrace's Opti-Time, which was originally delivered through another project at the authority; and the handheld device that staff will use is the rugged Motorola ES400 digital assistant.

The devices have been rolled out to 18 electricians, and this will be extended to the rest of the 350 maintenance employees between August and October this year.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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