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Empowering the Digital Workspace: How the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Does It

On Florida’s Gulf Coast, the 1,000 employees of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office serve and protect anywhere from 396,000 to 500,000 residents, depending on the season. Their digital workspaces extend from the office to the courtroom to the patrol car, ensuring that law enforcement has frictionless, secure access to the apps they use every day.

Increasing numbers of government workers rely on mobile devices to transform their workdays, and this sheriff’s office is no different. Employees use 600 iPhones and iPads to access a variety of applications, including an app called FINDER® that was developed to help disparate Florida law enforcement agencies share, analyze and search for information. In patrol cars, 450 rugged Panasonic Toughbook® devices help deputies file reports from the field and print tickets.

Notoriously Easy to Use

The unifying factor that makes all these endpoints easy to manage is VMware AirWatch. From smartphones to rugged devices, AirWatch acts as a single platform to manage all apps and devices, and AirWatch is well-known for being easy to use. Debbie Bussin, assistant IT director at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, estimates that after initial setup it takes only a few hours a week to manage the entire fleet of mobile devices. “We can implement mass changes, push out profiles and email settings or provision a standard background screen” without touching individual devices. “We also use AirWatch for reporting, and all those reports are automated. It’s very easy.”

[Read Easy as 9.1.1-2-3: AirWatch EMM Features]

While the agency’s network is secured by NetMotion, AirWatch per-app VPN provides seamless and secure access at an application level. Bussin noted that AirWatch makes it a lot easier to access apps on department-provided iOS devices. “It definitely saves us time. You don’t have to request the VPN on your iPhone or iPad. One click on any of the AirWatch-managed apps initiates the VPN and loads the app. It’s only a few clicks, but when you multiply that by all the programs you use in a day, it adds up.”

[Read AirWatch 101: Per-App VPN]

The sheriff’s office also participates in Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP), a fast, streamlined way to deploy iOS devices. When the office onboards a new employee, for example, their phone comes preloaded with all the necessary apps and profiles, taking configuration time essentially to zero.

[Read Apple DEP Enrollment: 4 Common iOS Configurations with AirWatch]

Security & Confidence with AirWatch

For law enforcement, the need for high security is a given. Bussin’s department can easily wipe a lost or stolen mobile device, including the VPN configuration that could be used to access sensitive apps such as FINDER. “AirWatch is a lot more reliable than the system we were using,” said Bussin. “Before this, we would send a wipe command, and we wouldn’t know if it really wiped the phone. It’s a more secure process with AirWatch” because Bussin and her team can see the command being executed right in the console.

In the future, the office plans to add more capabilities to their mobile devices, including the ability to more easily upload iPhone photos of evidence. According to Bussin, there are definitely advantages to going with the unified endpoint management (UEM) market leader. “I’m confident that when there are advancements in the marketplace when it comes to mobility management, AirWatch is going to keep up.”

“We’re a VMware shop. So far, all the products we use, including AirWatch, are very reliable and dependable. When I’m making changes to an employee’s phone, I need something that’s going to be rock solid. AirWatch is a solid performer.”
—Debbie Bussin, Assistant Director IT, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

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