Craigavon Borough Council has become one of the first organisations in Ireland to pilot Windows Mobile 5, having completed a project to make applications available over a range of devices including smart phones and personal digital Assistants (PDAs).
4sol, a Belfast-based systems integrator, migrated the entire council’s IT network and PCs to the latest versions of Microsoft products including Windows Mobile 5, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.
The project involved more than 200 users, including elected councillors, providing them with fast and easy access to information when and where they need it. By combining Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows Mobile 5 — the latest release of Microsoft software for mobile devices — Craigavon’s council staff can use the same applications from corporate servers to their desktop PCs, smart phones and handheld PDAs.
Barry McQueen, IT manager for Craigavon Borough Council, said that the organisation wanted to provide the directors and councillors with mobile access to their corporate email and data. “While we had already provided key management with laptops for ease of communication, we wanted to make the task of staying in contact even easier through the ‘push’ technology offered by Windows Mobile 5,” he said.
John Lennon, managing director of 4sol, commented: “The new Microsoft solution has delivered an IT network that’s easier for the council to manage and administer.”
He pointed out that the Microsoft option has a lower cost because organisations do not need to buy dedicated servers and the upgrades are free. He added that the most important facet of the Windows Mobile 5 system is its security. “Users connect using a single sign-on,” said Lennon. “Inactive periods force users to enter a PIN and remote wipeout is pre-programmed, allowing for theft or multiple miss-entries to trigger this safety requirement.”
Microsoft application features are available on the handheld devices — in this case, SPVM5000s from Orange. The devices can receive emails in real time and because the client software also comes from Microsoft, users can read attachments and edit them using their mobile device, a feature which it is claimed is not available on other competing push technologies.
By Gordon Smith