Cambridge council: 'We can’t offer iPhones to staff without being pilloried in the local press'

By Peter Gothard
25 Jan 2013 View Comments

Cambridgeshire County Council workers won't get a penny extra for joining the council's new BYOD scheme because the authority is worried about being "pilloried in the local press" if they did.

Staff signing up to the scheme, which began on Wednesday, will get no financial reward for taking part, according to strategy and architecture team manager Alan Shields.

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Speaking at Civica's 2013 conference in Manchester on the day of the launch, Shields said the initiative is being implemented using what the council calls its "headline of the local newspaper method".

"I work for a political organisation, with a big ‘P' as well as a small ‘P', and we adhere to the ‘headline of the local newspaper method'.

"I don't want to see headlines saying ‘Council pays £100 per staff so they can use iPhones'," said Shields.

"We only have to buy an iPad once, someone does a freedom of information request, and we get pilloried in the local press."

Instead, Shields said, users who join the scheme will get "a piece of paper that tells you what you need to do, and you're told to go away".

"We call it ‘use your own device', not ‘bring your own device'. You spend your own money, and we will not reimburse anybody. It is a purely voluntary scheme; if you wish to use your own device to access corporate information, which is what it boils down to, if you see that as an advantage, then you can take it up, join the scheme, but we won't pay you a penny.

"We won't pay for the cost of the phone, we won't pay for the cost of the tariff. We won't even train you," added Shields.

The fact that "all you can eat" data tariffs now exist is key to the policy, he said.

"As long as they don't consume it all, and then we [have to] add extra [funding] to that, they won't really notice any difference - they won't notice a change whether they're using BYOD or not," said Shields.

Joe Baguley, chief technologist for EMEA at virtualisation firm VMware, argued that Shields' "bring your own money" policy removed users' freedom of choice in the device they could use to enrich their working experience.

"One of our customers in the US said ‘you can keep the device you've got, but you now have the freedom to go and choose any device you like on any tariff, and we'll give you a monthly allowance'," said Baguley.

"They've negotiated deals with two carriers, too. It gives people choice, and that's important. If you want to spend your money to go and do that, it's your choice now. It's selling it as freedom of choice. If you're selling it as bring your own money, no one's going to want to do it."

"In defence of his policy Shields said: "Within the environment of a local authority, with what is deemed to be public money, you've got to be careful."

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