The County of San Diego improves its mobile
work force with persistent connectivity.
San Diego is well known for ocean
views, palm trees and California
sunshine. But the County of San
Diego reaches far beyond the city. At
4,200 square miles, the county is larger
than Delaware and Rhode Island. The
eastern part of the county is home to
impressive mountains, deep valleys and
desert. Agriculture flourishes in many
areas within the county.
The diverse topography creates a
challenge for the county’s mobile workers,
who need strong connections
back to the network in order to do their
jobs. Hundreds of the county’s mobile
workers file reports from the field using
laptops and tablet PCs.
Until recently, the topography
caused workers to lose their connections.
Their applications would crash,
and they’d lose all the data they’d
entered. It was a frustrating process
that mobile workers would endure several
times each day.
“They would get disconnected frequently,”
said Harold Tuck, CIO for the
county. “They would have to attempt
to log back in five or six times a day,
which included going through our
authentication and security. It would be
30-45 minutes per day, per user, of lost
That was not acceptable to the
county, which brought in a solution from
AT&T — a mobility virtual private network
(VPN). The mobility VPN provides
a persistent network connection. Workers
no longer lose their applications
or data. They don’t have to log back
in several times a day, and they don’t
need to re-enter data that’s been lost.
Now, workers are more productive, with
greater job satisfaction, because they’re
able to serve more citizens each day.
Commitment to Productivity
With the new solution, if there’s ever a
disconnect, the tool saves the application
and data — and automatically finds
the best connection when available.
Users simply keep working, and don’t
lose any work or time. The experience
The county’s Land Use and Environment
Group (LUEG) sends inspectors
out to agricultural and other remote
areas. It has about 100 users on the
mobility VPN. LUEG participated in a
90-day pilot project involving about
30 users. Field workers were excited
about the performance of the new tool
from the outset. In the pilot, workers
were 31 percent more productive, as
they were able to do more inspections
per day. With increased productivity
and less need for office space and
landlines, LUEG realized $130,000 in
The county’s Health and Human Services
Agency (HHSA) was so impressed
CIO, County of San Diego
with the pilot, that it too implemented the solution. Now the
HHSA has about 500 child welfare workers and 100 public
health nurses using AT&T mobility VPN. These field workers
are experiencing the same positive results, and are no longer
dealing with the frustration of disconnects. They have more
time to spend with clients — and need to put less time into
doing paperwork in the office.
In all, the county supports more than 1,000 workers on the
mobility VPN, with many more planned for the future. Even
employees who aren’t strictly field workers benefit from the
new tool. LUEG alone has more than 50 facilities and the
mobility VPN enables many types of workers to stay connected
as they move between those various sites.
The county’s commitment to greater productivity for mobile
workers is part of its Government Without Walls (GWOW) initiative.
The GWOW approach aims to increase productivity
in order to serve the county’s 3 million residents more cost
effectively. The mobility VPN has the potential to further reduce
paperwork, serve more citizens where they live and work, and
bring greater value to taxpayers and the County of San Diego.
“We have GWOW because we recognize that within these
4,200 square miles where we deliver services, we have
employees all over the place,” said Tuck. “To do service delivery
the way we want and need to, we need to go where the
people are.” GWOW strives to give mobile workers all the
tools they need to work from anywhere.
Another factor in the improvement of mobile technology is
the county’s Innovation Council, which is made up of government
employees and private-sector tech companies. “With
the Innovation Council, we ask ‘What innovation can we bring
into the county, using technology, to solve a business problem
that will make our employees more effective at what they
The county’s mountains and valleys are a big challenge
for mobile connectivity.
VP, Public Sector Western Region, AT&T
do?’ The Innovation Council decided that one of our very first
areas to focus on was work force effectiveness,” Tuck said.
Better mobility was a good fit for that. The Innovation Council
set up a vendor day for mobile technology, and it was there
that the county learned more about the mobility VPN.
The solution is based on a monthly, per-user fee, as part of
AT&T’s contract with the county, so it’s an operational expense.
AT&T also helped with long-term planning. “The infrastructure
is being put in by AT&T to allow us to grow,” Tuck said. “So
we do have the flexibility we need for the future.” The mobility
VPN solution is enterprisewide, so all five of the county’s large
business groups will be using it.
“We can go out and solve for a specific need — or we can
solve for a specific enterprise, over time,” said Christopher
Roy, vice president of Public Sector, Western Region for AT&T.
“And that’s really where we focus for the County of San Diego.
They had immediate needs for today that we were able to
solve for. But we also put in a mechanism and a system that
allows the county to solve for future issues as well.”
Roy believes other government agencies could learn from
the county’s experience with the mobility VPN. “In the County
of San Diego, you find a county that is not necessarily unique
in its problems. But it is unique in the way it solves them,” said
Roy. “They’re an early adopter in the technology world, and
in solving their problems with technology. I think if you looked
across the country, you’d find other counties and municipalities
that have similar issues. And I think they’ll follow in the
footsteps of the County of San Diego, and will solve their
problems in a similar fashion.”
Tuck believes this is a good example of public and private
sector working together for the common good. “It’s the willingness
of the private sector to partner with the public sector
to get the best benefit and the best value for the taxpayer
dollars,” he said.
For more information, please visit www.att.com/stateandlocal.
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