Although the BlackBerry offers music downloads, sports updates and about as many game applications as you can dream of, the handheld mobile device is more than just a sleek toy for the digital age. RIM, the maker of the highly popular mobile smart phone, has partnered with a variety of vendors to develop applications that can help public CIOs and government workers stay up-to-date on current information, assess business analytics, communicate wirelessly with officials, and deliver fast, reliable service to constituents. Below is a list of a few BlackBerry third-party applications, each customized to support a particular area of the public sector.
- Higher Education: The BlackBerry has software for faculty, staff and students to stay connected, conduct research, update records and collaborate on projects. Impatica ShowMate is the only device that allows users to project PowerPoint presentations from their BlackBerry without the use of a laptop. A great product for faculty, staff and students, ShowMate can display all aspects of a presentation, from text and images to animation and slide transition effects.
- Public Safety/Law Enforcement: A variety of applications provide users real-time access to essential information, helping law enforcement officials improve responsiveness and service to the public. ATS Voyager Technology provides secure wireless access to federal, state and local agency databases through the BlackBerry. Officials can conduct warrant checks and searches for stolen property without radioing a dispatcher, saving valuable time. OnPatrol keeps law enforcement officials connected and secure. The application allows officers to receive dispatches, send and receive messages, and access national police databases. OnPatrol gives undercover police and mobile users access to critical information.
- Business Intelligence: Innovative public CIOs are turning to analytics to improve the delivery and performance of public services. Blackberry users can extend the power of BI (business intelligence) into the mobile workforce with dashboards that give timely access to decision-making information. Cognos 8 Go! Mobile analytical tool provides CIOs and mobile government workers with access to timely, secure and personalized information on their Blackberry. Key features include the ability to integrate reports, analyses and other BI content into applications and interfaces that everyday users are familiar with. Webalo Mobile Dashboard Service is a business intelligence service that lets users quickly communicate essential business information. Applicable to both the government and higher education market, Webalo allows users to load and distribute reports regarding inventory status, forecasts, and other critical data.
- Field Service/Inspections: Field-based workers can now access updates, dispatch information and other important data, increasing productivity and improving customer satisfaction. Vaultus Mobile Technologies lets field-based employees access IT help desk applications on their Blackberry. Users can view and update inventory, revise and create service tickets and perform asset management tasks. Aeroprise Inc. provides mobile field access to service management applications such as change management, asset management and the help desk through the BlackBerry, Aeroprise increases the capabilities of field-based employees.
- Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) Applications: These applications give mobile users access to operations information, thus improving responsiveness to emergency situations in the public sector. OnSet METAmessage Emergency software allows users to store and revise emergency documents, archive PIN (personal identification number)/short message service (SMS) messages and send group messages, keeping officials in contact during a disaster. Wallace Incident Communicator (WIC) maintains communication channels during a
crisis through chat, PIN and even TV images on the BlackBerry. Ensure that plans, maps and other data are up to date so that EM workers are prepared for any emergency.
The bottom line: From updating student records, searching a criminal database, creating a service ticket to sending a group message during an emergency, the BlackBerry offers an application that can help public CIOs get their jobs done. With the development of these mobile applications for the public sector, Blackberries are clearly no longer just an expensive mobile phone; they have the potential to form a more sophisticated way of communicating that can enhance productivity throughout the public sector.
Tip for government BlackBerry users: Have a question about your BlackBerry? Want to talk with other government BlackBerry users? Visit the various BlackBerry forums, such as Pinstack.com and BlackBerryForums.com for answers to questions, from simple to difficult.