London Councils dish out more than 7,000 mobile devices to support remote working amid COVID-19

They have purchased mobile phones, laptops and tablets in bulk since the start of the outbreak

London Councils have bought 7,792 new remote working devices since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to official figures acquired by Parliament Street Think Tank.

The data, released under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation, unveiled a surge in purchases of mobile phones, laptops and tablets to enable council workers to continue working remotely while formal lockdown measures are in place.

Tower Hamlets council has forked out on a total of 2,063 new devices; while Kingston and Sutton council have purchased 1,147; Royal Greenwich council has bought 941 devices; and Hounslow council has invested in 858 thus far.

While Richmond and Wansworth, and Bexley council, are yet to purchase a single device since the start of the outbreak, the data suggests these regions already had adequate technology and services in place to support continued remote working.

On top of this, Croydon council has snapped up 100 new laptops, but already had sufficient mobile phones and tablets in place prior to the outbreak.

Overall, London councils have acquired 5,688 remote working software licences to help minimise the disruption caused by the pandemic. Again, Tower Hamlets have invested in the most, with 4,648 Office 365 accounts, presumably to help with staff communications and document creating/sharing during the outbreak. Croydon council also bought 177 Zoom accounts to support remote employee meetings.

Andy Harcup, VP of Absolute Software, commented: “The COVID-19 crisis has placed huge pressure on communities and local authorities, putting lives and livelihoods at risk. This substantial surge in device purchases is entirely necessary so that council workers can provide critical support for citizens such as management of social care budgets as well as business support, such as the urgent distribution of loans and government grants.

“However, the rapid expansion of the device estate and dramatically increased remote working brings with it significant security concerns that should be acknowledged, as endpoints remain one of the most vulnerable attack surfaces today,” added Harcup. “This means it is imperative to have an unbreakable connection between the endpoint and the enterprise who distributed it – in order for InfoSec teams to know where devices are, if they have the right patches and updates installed, and whether the right security controls are in place and working effectively.”

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