How the City of Memphis Moves

By Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor — June 24, 2013

Many a musician has walked through the City of Memphis, long known for jazz and blues on Beale Street and home, of course, to Graceland. Will Memphis now be associated with mobility? The City has launched a solution from Xora and AT&T to reduce paperwork and increase the safety of workers in the field.

In an effort to revitalize deteriorating areas, where trash has piled up or roofs are about to collapse, the city has more aggressively enforced its anti-neglect ordinance that allows inspectors to issue citations to commercial property owners. The initiative includes both buildings that are potentially dangerous and properties which have long been vacated. If problems are not corrected within allotted time frames, fines may result.

In an interview with Mobile Enterprise, Michael Jones, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Information Services – City of Memphis, explained that, initially, code inspectors went through a number of steps to complete one job, including manual paperwork and transferring information from one handwritten form to another. Not only was this time consuming, but had the potential for error.

In addition, after a County worker died while in the field, the City of Memphis wanted a solution that allowed for more visibility of its workers, while reducing redundant paperwork so that man-hours could be better spent on zoning regulation enforcement and neighborhood clean-up. 

Now, with the Xora StreetSmart app, which operates on the AT&T 4G Network, forms can be completed quickly on a smartphone or tablet. This greatly reduces man hours spent per site and allows employees to complete additional jobs in the same time frame. Signatures are also collected digitally.

Additionally, when an employee has been in the same place for more than the allocated time, a configurable alert triggers so a supervisor becomes aware and safety protocol goes into effect.

The initial challenge, Jones said, was getting the solution to talk to Oracle as needed, and to print forms. “Some hurdles are still being worked through,” he noted, but he remains optimistic. The initial roll out is to code inspectors, possibly to be followed by other departments. Jones couldn’t estimate an ROI yet, but said with certainty that the solution eliminates double work.

Mobility Everyday
As mobility becomes an integral part of daily life, workforce management solutions evolve to reflect that. Xora, for example, originally launched its first GPS app in 2003, years before the iPhone and the concept of 4G. The company introduced StreetSmart - the suite of mobile apps and web-based management application – in 2012.

The workforce management solution was also not created just for cities, but to be highly configurable, said Patty Harper, VP Marketing, Xora, to Mobile Enterprise. Public sector is their largest adoption while other verticals include wholesale distribution, retail delivery and transportation.

And since mobility also moves fast, Xora plans on releasing updates several times a year. The most recent additions to the app include one-click report creation and an upgraded interface.

Moving faster is also a top priority for Memphis as it seeks to change its Downtown area. “Harnessing the latest technology and advanced wireless broadband networks can help our city government work more efficiently and effectively to serve Memphians,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton in a press release. “We continue to evaluate and innovate around our operations to best meet the growing needs of our city as we attract new businesses and citizens every year.”

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