London Underground snubs iPads in favour of Windows 8 tablets

Windows devices provided more security than iPads

Emergency response and maintenance teams on London Underground have been equipped with Windows 8 tablets to help them complete their work.

Staff with London Transport subsidiary Tube Lines are using a re-architected iPad app to run as a touch-enabled app on Windows 8 tablets.

Adrian Davey, head of IT at Tube Lines, said: "To keep the system running on time our crews require the latest technology to access the information they need to prevent passenger delays. However, information exchange primarily occurred on paper and it could take up to 10 days to identify a system fault and fix it."

Bhadresh Sachania, head of the project management office at Tube Lines, said: "Engineers previously carried operational manuals and electrical circuitry maps. Searching through reams of pages to determine if a current is running before you can touch anything is a time-consuming way to access critical safety data."

Tube Lines therefore needed a mobile computing platform for its maintenance and emergency staffs. And as part of its IT streamlining and standardisation initiatives, Tube Lines wanted mobile devices capable of replacing PCs, laptops and phones in work and home environments.

Tube Lines began developing an iPad app to deliver information to workers on the job. However, when the IT department began working with Microsoft to standardise and refresh its client and server infrastructure, it found a better alternative.

"With the iPad, we had to add third-party solutions to provide secure access to our corporate system and to manage the devices," says Sachania. "But with Windows 8 devices, we already have the security and accessibility features we need built into our Microsoft infrastructure."

Unlike with the iPad, Tube Lines can manage Windows 8 devices remotely by using the Microsoft System Center 2012 family of system management products.

With Windows 8, IT staff can use BitLocker drive encryption technology to enhance the security of Tube Line data, and the Trusted Boot feature to help ensure that engineers and other staff can safely upload maintenance and safety documentation over any network.

Tube Lines workers can also connect directly to corporate network resources without having to establish a virtual private network (VPN) connection, by using the DirectAccess feature in the Windows Server 2012 operating system.

Tube Lines worked with Microsoft Services Consulting to create the touch-enabled app. The team uses the app on HP and Lenovo tablets running the Windows 8 Enterprise operating system. The app provides team members with a continuously updated electronic version of their emergency manuals.

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Antony Savvas

Computerworld UK
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