Report finds growing use of mobile in public sector

16 May 2008

A growing number of public sector organisations are using mobile communications in innovative and cost-effective ways, a new study has found.

The O2 Ireland-commissioned report from iReach found that organisations such as the Department and Education and Children and Teagasc have improved their service through mobile communications.

Teagasc successfully implemented a new SMS service to farmers that enables mass communications relatively cheaply and allowed employees to cut down on the amount of letters and phone calls to farmers. This cut internal costs but more importantly enabled staff to concentrate on more value-added activities, the report concluded.

In the Department of Education and Children, a recent decision to allow remote access by senior management to internal networks through PDAs enabled a much more efficient working environment.

The study also highlights how mobile communications is reducing the administrative burden on doctors. Bedside Hospital Information Systems (Bedside HIS) are slowly beginning to be rolled out, according to iReach.

Using these systems, clinicians can gain access to information at the point-of-care through PDAs or tablet devices. Instead of flicking through charts or leaving the patient’s bedside to print off reports, the clinician can access vital information such as patient history, allergies and case progress through a portable handheld device.

“This report suggests that mobile communications has a positive role to play in boosting efficiencies in the public sector and allowing staff to maximise their time and talents rather than getting preoccupied with administrative tasks,” commented Billy D’Arcy, head of corporate and business sales, O2 Ireland.

The study stated the three key drivers behind the development of mobile government programmes are cost savings, streamlining of internal processes for administrative tasks and the facilitation of better access to public services for citizens.

O2 also welcomed the new national framework agreement for the supply of mobile, voice and data services and products to the public sector, which came into effect earlier this year. O2, Vodafone and Meteor will participate in the new mobile framework, which has been signed by the Department of Finance.

A feature of the new framework is that smaller public sector agencies will benefit from the same price plans as large departments. “This agreement will help drive down mobile costs across the public sector and boost service and service delivery,” said D’Arcy.

By Niall Byrne