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By on January 24, 2012 - CSR Blog

Deploying an iPad in the field can be seen by some as hip, but a tablet clearly demonstrates its business value on the ground in the extractive industry. The benefit of the Borealis iPad App is derived not only from its portability or because it boots up in a second, but also because the iPad replaces the laptop, the 3G network modem, the camera, and the GPS in your bag.

By embedding all of these devices in one tool, the tablet has the ability to capture all sources of information within a single application. The deployment of iPads on the ground doesn’t compete with the use of laptops, but replaces the actual process done on paper.

Acting like a paper pad, the iPad is more socially acceptable while meeting with stakeholders and helps to minimize the cultural barrier between corporate representatives and the community. In developing the iPad App, Borealis has chosen to rethink how its users interact with stakeholders.

Business benefits

The Borealis iPad App provides wireless access information stored in the Borealis IMS and enables remote field data acquisition on the ground. The Borealis App works offline without any network connection, which allows field teams to work offline without paper. Being able to access information stored in the Borealis IMS off the grid permits companies to streamline the collection, management, retrieval and reporting of CSR data between the corporate office and field teams.

The Borealis iPad App helps to democratize access to GIS information across the enterprise, providing agility and facilitating collaboration between community relation teams and field contractors. By delivering CSR information on the ground, it leverages team efficiency by automating key tasks such as data validation and the verification of work completeness.

Electronic data collection ensures data accuracy by eliminating hand-offs of data, while working in a paperless environment minimizes handwriting errors. Operational intelligence is improved by integrating all project information such as stakeholders, complaints, grievances, compensation agreements, and resettlement action plans in one place.

Technical challenges

Deploying iPads in the field presents a host of challenges. Working in the rain forest of a remote country requires innovative solutions to deal with extreme use and limited infrastructure.

Bringing the iPad into the back country involves extreme usage conditions such as dirt, sand, rain, shock, and vibration. Encapsulated within special cases, the iPad becomes a rugged device that can defy any weather.

Relying on an iPad app as a strategic tool in remote countries implies the capability to work offline and synchronize data when a network is available. At the end of the day, if a network is not even thinkable, a satellite IP modem can bring the network anywhere.

Working with sensitive enterprise information out of a corporate network on portable devices requires advanced attention to security. Establishing strong policies for access to company iPads is critical to protecting corporate information. Like workstations in a company, a mobile device infrastructure must be managed. MDM (Mobile Device Management) software secures, monitors, manages, and supports mobile devices. The MDM ensures device protection with passcode policy management.

Data protection is managed with a remote wipe capability, encrypted configuration profiles, and hardware encryption. Mobile users need to access corporate networks from anywhere. Network security is enforced by SSL/TLS connection and VPN protocols. The controlled distribution of the application is done by the MDM outside of the App Store.

In addition to iPad device management, Borealis has implemented security enforcement across all layers of the application. Devices must be authorized by the Borealis IMS system prior to establishing a connection. Users must authenticate on the app even if the device is unlocked. Data storage and communications are encrypted. Synchronization with the database is done under an SSL connection. Moreover, an uncommon feature enables the app to auto-wipe all data by itself after a certain amount of time to protect data while the iPad is at rest, including when a device is lost or stolen.

Developed in collaboration with its clients, the new Borealis iPad App brings agility to field teams while complying with enterprise security policies, facilitating the collection, management, retrieval and reporting of CSR data in the extractive industry.

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