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February 4, 2014

Tube Lines runs faster with Microsoft mobile computing

Windows 8 tablets help emergency response teams on the London Underground.

By Claire Vanner

Despite the limited services scheduled for this week’s tube strikes, Tube Lines, a subsidiary of London Transport, is helping London Underground services run faster thanks to the use of mobile computing services.

Tube Lines is re-architecting an iPad app to run as a touch-enabled app on Windows 8 tablets. With emergency data at their fingertips, responders can work faster to protect passengers.

"In the past, from identifying a fault to actually getting someone out there to fix it could actually take up to five to ten days," said Adrian Davey, head of IT for Tube Lines. "Utilising mobility and Windows 8 platforms, we can start thinking of that process taking hours.

Unlike with the iPad, Tube Lines can manage Windows 8 devices remotely by using Microsoft System Center 2012 products and use BitLocker drive encryption technology to enhance the security of Tube Line data.

The Trusted Boot feature helps ensure that engineers and emergency response team members can upload maintenance and safety documentation, regardless of connectivity or location. Also, Tube Lines workers can connect directly to corporate network resources without establishing a virtual private network (VPN) connection by using the DirectAccess feature.

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

"The new tablets have certainly helped us when it comes to responding to incidents. Having the information there at your fingertips to rectify the incident quicker, it’s a case of making things so much simpler for us and giving us more information than we’ve ever had before," said Gary Burnham Tube Line’s emergency response unit training manager.

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"The journey for us has been going from HP, to Vista, to Windows 7 and now Windows 8. Each step has been revolutionary, but I think Windows 8 we have found the most interesting leap as it has been quite revolutionary on its thought process in terms of mobility," added Davey.

"While it’s still the same bits of metal going down a tunnel from 150 years ago, utilising things like mobility and windows 8 is what is really critical to us going forward."

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