Why Field Service Workers Love Their iPads

Cornell University runs its own water and electrical utility for the campus and student housing, serving as many as 30,000 people when school is in session in the Ithaca, N.Y., campus. As with any utility, it experiences outages -- in this case of power, water, or steam (used for heating). The usual way to deal with that was for phone operators to dial up utility managers and have them come into the office to figure out the issue, then determine the course of action. That meant delays of as much as an hour as people dropped what they were doing (or got dressed, if in the middle of the night) and drove in.

Today, Cornell still calls those managers. But since October, they've been signing into the utility management systems from their cellular-equipped iPads to pinpoint the issues and even remotely fix them when possible. In a pinch, they can also use their iPhones. Mechanics and technicians are issued iPads for the same reason.