Shared on July 20, 2011 written by Josh Hines
JEA is one of the largest municipal utilities in the United States, providing electricity, water and sewer services to more than 750,000 accounts in northeast Florida. In their ongoing effort to improve customer service and reliability they focused recently on optimizing wireless communications for their mobile field personnel. The task is a complex one since no single wireless communications network covers the entire 841 square miles of JEA's service region.
When problems arise, JEA's field workers are the first responders for the utility. They handle breaks in water and sewage mains, fix meters, respond to power outages, turn service on and off—even when it's not hurricane season their days are tightly scheduled. Communicating wirelessly makes sense for these first responders, but any wireless system has to meet JEA's criteria:
Field workers reported that they were losing valuable time with the wireless system whenever they were forced to switch to a new network. Each time a mobile technician's wireless connection dropped, it was taking 20-30 minutes to log back into the system. In a fast-paced environment where minutes matter, this is an unacceptable loss of productivity, not to mention a source of irritation. The goal for JEA was keeping communications reliable even as their people moved from one network to another.
Kent Mathis, a registered Professional Engineer with the State of Florida who works in the New Technologies Department of JEA as a Research Project Consultant, led the search for a solution. JEA had tried some IPSec and SSL VPN solutions, but the performance was not what they hoped for, since these technologies were designed with wired, not wireless, connections in mind. A more specialized solution was needed, so Mathis developed an RFP to which five companies responded. During evaluation and testing NetMotion Wireless was represented by USAT Corp., a partner specializing in mobility systems integration. Mobility stood out from the competition on a number of fronts:
"Mobility XE is helping JEA deliver the best customer service possible."
—Kent Mathis, JEA Research Project Consultant
In the initial deployment of Mobility XE at JEA, 470 utility workers, construction crew leaders, engineers, as well as some administrators are using Mobility XE. They no longer have to re-authenticate when a connection goes down and can rely on keeping the connection to their applications. Whatever networks they roam to, Mobility and USAT Corp. will keep them connected—securely and reliably.
JEA is the largest community-owned utility in Florida and the eighth largest in the United States. Formerly known as the Jacksonville Electric Authority, JEA now offers services that include both an electric system and water and sewer systems. They are committed to their purpose—to improve the quality of life in the communities they serve, with a spirit that has united their business for 109 years. For more information please visit www.jea.com.
Keywords: JAE, M2M Industry Case Study, NetMotion