Snow provides silver lining for Georgia county's mobile workforce


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For most of the country, a few inches of wintery weather is nothing but a mere annoyance — an event hardly worth breaking out the windshield ice scraper from the glove compartment, let alone a cause for major concern.

Of course, most of the country has things like snow plows, salt trucks and a driving population used to dealing with snow and ice that make storms like these a little more manageable. But that’s not the case in the Deep South and places like Fulton County, Ga.

This past winter, the southeastern part of the United States — a place that rarely sees snow — got hit with multiple storms that crippled major cities like Atlanta, which serves as the county seat for Fulton.

With so many stuck at home, it in many ways provided a silver lining for Jay Terrell, Fulton County’s chief technology officer, and his team to relay on its secure mobile access solution from Dell, which until that point was still not used widely inside the county’s government.

“There were some adopters, but as a whole, employees were not really leveraging the technology,” Terrell said in an interview with StateScoop. “What the storms did was force them to work remotely and to use the system to keep the government function at a time when they could not physically get to their desk.”

The storms hit Fulton County — the largest county in the state with nearly 1 million residents — in late January and early February. With the roads crippled, Terrell said the government and its 5,800 employees were still able to function as employees used the system to do their work securely from the comfort and safety of home.

And for him, along with his 140-member IT staff, it was a comfort.

“The reality is that because of this system, our government was able to keep operating during the storms,” Terrell said. “Having this in place, I know for me at least, allowed me to sleep better.”

Jane Wasson, a senior product manager at Dell, said Fulton County is pretty typical in the marketplace for organizations looking to increase their mobility, but do so in a secure way.

Last month, Dell released an updated secure mobile access solution that provides users with per-app virtual private network access to enterprise data and resources, while protecting the corporate network from security threats. By enabling IT to restrict VPN access to only a set of trusted mobile apps, the solution is designed to manage and secure access to business apps and data, while co-existing with personal applications and respecting personal data privacy.

In an interview with StateScoop, Wasson said the new release is part of the company’s ongoing effort to help organizations of all types, not just state and local, but also those in the federal government, academia and the private sector.

“The reality today is that everyone is at risk,” Wasson said. “If you house personal data of any kind, you will be a target. The key for most organizations is finding a way to keep that protected while enabling a mobile work force. People don’t want to be tied to a desk, but you need to create an environment that is safe as well, but also harbors productivity.”

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Georgia, Mobility, States, Tech News