Hillingdon beats targets thanks to 3G mobile access

The London Borough of Hillingdon has beaten government performance targets after introducing 3G-based mobile access to its back-office systems for its benefits inspectors.

The London Borough of Hillingdon has beaten government performance targets after introducing 3G-based mobile access to its back-office systems for its benefits inspectors.

Council chiefs needed the inspectors to visit a minimum of 4,850 benefits claimants during the year to meet government performance targets. By equipping them with mobile devices that could link into council systems, inspectors were able to visit more people because they no longer had to return to the office to enter data on the benefits IT system, said the council.

The inspectors exceeded the government target and met Hillingdon's internal target of visiting 7,760 people during the last financial year.

They were also able to cut the turnaround time for benefits claims to 35 days because claims were no longer delayed by inspectors returning to the office to enter data.

"Significant non-cashable savings have become apparent as a result of staff time being used more productively," said the council.

A decision to replace existing GPRS-based mobile systems with 3G technology was key to the project.

"Extensive testing showed that 3G was superior to GPRS in terms of performance, user satisfaction and speed of access," said the council.

IT managers initially set up mobile access to four key systems: benefits, council tax, rent arrears and repairs. They now plan to extend mobile access to other council applications, such as the system used to manage council houses and an application used by Hillingdon's anti-social behaviour team.

The council received half of the £120,000 cost of the project from the Department for Communities and Local Government as an Implementing Electronic Government grant. Hillingdon matched the government funding using its own resources to get the project started.

In a separate project, Hillingdon has cut costs by using VMware virtualisation software to make more efficient use of its datacentre hardware. The council said it expects to have cut its power requirements for legacy servers by 82% when it finishes consolidating 40 servers onto three later this year.

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