Who says mobility is reserved for digital natives? As some government agencies are finding out, digital immigrants sometimes stand to benefit even more from devices such as smartphones and tablets. As Pam Hird, manager of the NASS computer-assisted personal interview program, noted, “We're using people that sometimes have never even seen a computer before.” The CDW·G whitepaper Mobile Strategies for Government highlights the USDA as one of the agencies whose mobile strategies are paying dividends:
Often the biggest payoff with mobile technology occurs with workers who are already out and about. Replacing pencil-and-paper forms with tablets and well-designed digital forms can really rev up the efficiency and accuracy of field data gathering.
A case in point: The National Agricultural Statistics Service, a unit of the Agriculture Department, collects crop statistics through hundreds of onsite surveys each year. NASS uses part-time enumerators, many of them well past the age of the typical digital native. Yet NASS officials have had success with iPads. In fact, the effort requires only about a day of training, after which the enumerators — some in their 80s — are ready to go into the field to gather data.
Typically, the iPads’ 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless capability transmits data to agency computers as it’s collected. In rural areas where wireless cellular service is nonexistent, data can remain temporarily on the device. But the default mode is for immediate transfer for security purposes. Connectivity ensures security of personally identifiable farm data by bypassing storage.
Download Mobile Strategies for Government here.