Bradford Metropolitan District Council has introduced mobile technology in an effort to increase the time its 75 social workers spend helping vulnerable children and adults.
Social workers are using laptops or tablet PCs to access and amend citizens' personal details without returning to the office.
Previously, they were often unable to carry out some aspects of their jobs when they were out of the office because they could not access information held on the central database.
Bradford Council used systems integrator Esteem Software to develop its social care applications, which were supplied by Anite, for mobile working. They allow social workers to access e-mails, reports and case notes from the central Anite database remotely via a 3G network.
The project has also enabled Bradford Council to comply with the government target to introduce electronic social care records for vulnerable children. All 150-plus local authorities that provide social services have to comply with a series of Whitehall regulations to store social care data electronically.
The council and Esteem used a Citrix Secure Gateway to enable access to the social care applications. The devices, which are equipped with Sierra wireless cards, can alternatively access the applications through the council's virtual private network. Citrix Metaframe XPe software is used to manage the social care applications centrally.
Ian Sampson, e-care manager at the council, said, "This flexible way of working enables us to deploy a mobility application that is both cost effective and efficient for us to manage. A
"fter trialling a number of applications when we were looking to achieve remote working capabilities for our social services team, we were relieved to find one that worked for us."
The council said the number of social workers using the mobile applications will be expanded once it has finished its research into the effectiveness of staff spending more time with vulnerable children and adults.
Sampson said, "We are now seeing improvements in the level of service that we can offer citizens and can visit homes and access real-time information that makes a massive difference.
"It means we can be much more responsive to customer needs and offer our employees a more flexible way of working."
More informationBradford Council
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This was first published in February 2007