Publiceret: 7/10/2013
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Ashburton District Council Municipality Uses Online PC Management Tools to Enable Modern, Mobile Workplace

Ashburton District Council wanted a modern, mobile computing platform for employees who provide frontline services. Before it deployed smartphones to mobile workers, the council subscribed to the Windows Intune PC and device management solution to manage these devices and corporate data. With Windows Intune, the IT staff can offer an enterprise, highly secure, self-service portal for frontline workers to download productivity-enhancing apps.

Business Needs
Ashburton District in the South Island of New Zealand covers 6,175 square kilometers and has a population of approximately 32,000. Dairy farming, specialized crops, and primary product processing help make Ashburton District one of the fastest growing rural districts in the country.

Approximately 45 of the district’s 120 employees are mobile, providing services such as road, park, and forestry maintenance; animal control; and building, health, water, and waste facility inspections. Until recently, these employees used only basic mobile phones for voice communications. A similar situation existed for the executive team and department heads who could not access business information or email when attending meetings outside of the office.

“We needed better tools for our mobile staff and executives so they could be more productive on the road,” says Gordon Tupper, Information Systems Manager at Ashburton District Council. “We recognized that staff needed smartphones to provide additional communications—email and instant messaging being the first two basic requirements. But before we simply picked and deployed new smartphones, we decided to expand our vision for a mobile productivity platform for the district.”

Ashburton District Council wanted to enable a more modern, flexible workplace. But before it put this plan into action—deploying smartphones and then adding tablets to the tools that mobile staff could use on the road—it needed to find the best solution for managing these devices and the corporate data stored on them.

Ashburton District Council deployed Nokia Lumina 620 and Lumina 920 Windows Phone 8 smartphones to mobile staff and executives, and subscribed to the Windows Intune service. This PC and mobile device management solution from Microsoft provides both cloud and on-premises capabilities. The IT staff can use the web-based Administration console in Windows Intune to run mobile device management tasks for smartphones and tablets remotely, including software distribution and self-serve application delivery.

* With the mobile device management capabilities of Windows Intune, we can provide field staff, who perform critical services, with smartphones now, and tablets in the future, boosting productivity. *

Gordon Tupper
Information Systems Manager, Ashburton District Council

“We decided against devices running iOS because it would have required additional servers and we wanted to streamline our infrastructure,” says Tupper. “Windows Phone 8 smartphones fit with our Microsoft-centric IT platform and our IT expertise, and Windows Intune requires no infrastructure. Android devices did not meet our security requirements, but Windows Intune Endpoint Protection provides all the security capabilities we need.” And because Windows Intune integrates with Active Directory Domain Services, Ashburton can create dynamic groups for employees using mobile devices based on values in Active Directory properties.

Ashburton District also was interested in the interoperability between Windows Intune and Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. Windows Intune connects with Configuration Manager to offer a single console for both PCs and mobile devices. “We already owned Configuration Manager, so Windows Intune enabled us to capitalize on our existing investments,” says Tupper. “All we had to consider was the Windows Intune client access licenses. And we got even more value from Windows Intune because it offers per-user licensing. One licensed user can have up to five managed devices.”

New direct management capabilities within Windows Intune mean that all the IT staff had to do was connect the Nokia smartphones to the Windows Intune service. Management services built into the phones provide the capabilities to manage the devices. “Hand-over to the user took only half an hour,” says Tupper.

The IT staff also deployed the self-service Company Portal that comes with Windows Intune to publish Windows Store apps that mobile employees can access on demand.

In Windows Intune, Ashburton District Council found the right mobile device management tool to move forward with strategic plans to create a modern, mobile work environment. “With the mobile device management capabilities of Windows Intune, we can provide field staff, who perform critical services, with smartphones now, and tablets in the future, boosting productivity,” says Tupper.

Enabled Mobile Productivity
The IT staff is planning on expanding mobile computing with tablets over the coming months. “Employees love their smartphones and being able to email and text, so we want to add to that mobile experience,” says Tupper. “With Windows Intune, we have the management infrastructure in place and can deploy line-of-business applications and our enterprise resource planning solution to the tablets. Staff can also take advantage of touch-enabled computing. Building inspectors could carry tablets around a property and fill out inspection forms, instead of having to deal with hardcopy forms.”

The IT staff chooses Windows Store apps for the Company Portal to improve the work experience for mobile staff. Building inspectors already use a spirit level app, and the council is thinking about replacing an expensive vehicle tracking solution with a Windows Store app called FollowMee so staff can locate council vehicles.

Enhanced Security
Before the council deployed smartphones that would carry corporate data, it needed reassurance that the IT staff could enforce security policies on the devices. “With Windows Intune, we can enforce password protection and remotely wipe a device should it get lost or stolen,” says Tupper. “We can easily extend our existing security policies to mobile devices.”

Streamlined Management Tasks
Today, the IT staff streamlines PC, smartphone, and tablet management tasks by using one console in System Center Configuration Manager and Windows Intune. The integration between Windows Intune and Active Directory also helps save IT time. “We can still do everything in Active Directory, so we don’t have the overhead of maintaining separate user lists and authentications,” says Tupper. “The other thing that saves us time is that Windows Intune is an intuitive tool that just works!”

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Approximately 80 kilometers south of Christchurch, New Zealand, Ashburton District is governed by a 12-member council and mayor.

Software & Services
  • Windows Intune
  • Active Directory Domain Services
  • Windows Phone 8
  • Microsoft System Center 2012

Regulatory Agencies

New Zealand

Cloud & Server Platform