Wireless at work

The City of Nanaimo developed the following custom applications, as described by Guillermo Ferrero, Manager of Business Applications for the city:

Mobile Street Lights: The City owns several thousand streetlights and uses an internal business application to keep track of them. After several years the information in this application became inaccurate and not up-to-date.

In 2004, we developed an application that would allow an inspector to walk the entire City and update the information of each individual streetlight, such as lamp type, wattage, pole type, pole height, road class, comments, when it was last updated and by whom.

The mobile application allowed the inspector to update live production data, in other words, after the street light data is updated in the field, the main office would have that updated information about that pole immediately. Before wireless/mobility, the information would have had to be keyed-in when the inspector returned to the office.

Business Licences Search: This project was completed in May 2004, with a combined effort between our Finance and Economic Development Departments. Using the mobile application they are now able to query our internal business license database live, in the field. If an inspector is walking down a street and suspects that a business is operating in a residence, he/she can now use this application to determine if a business licence has been issued to operate on that property.

Calls for Services: This application operates in the same mode as that of the Business Licence Search. In this particular case, staff can query calls for service to a specific residence. For example they can see how many calls for excessive noise a specific property had or currently has. This application, which provides a valuable tool to our bylaw officers, is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

Building Permit Inspections: Our main challenge was to securely interact with our land system in real time, present all necessary information required to complete an inspection on the device screen and provide a mobile printing solution from the BlackBerry device.

The application flow works as follows: Inspections are scheduled in our land system by staff. An inspector logs in first thing in the morning, using the mobile device, and automatically retrieves all the inspections for that day for his particular area. While performing the inspections he has access to all the inspection details and deficiencies. Using the BlackBerry device he can now change the status of the inspections as well as add and/or modify deficiencies. As soon as the inspection is complete a report is sent from the BlackBerry device to a remote printer installed in the inspector’s car. This report is given to the client as a record. Immediately after the inspection is completed the main office has the information readily available in our production database via our land system. At the end of the day, all this information is also transferred to our external Web site where developers can securely access inspection results information.

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