Northern Gas Networks Uses Absolute to Protect £1.4m Laptop Investment
Northern Gas Networks is responsible for distributing gas to homes and businesses across the North of England. They provide control, maintenance, and repairs for around 37,000 km of gas pipes that deliver gas to 26 million customers. Northern Gas Networks must perform ongoing maintenance on the pipeline network to ensure safe and fast gas delivery. The company has a team of gas maintenance managers and engineers that carry out work along the pipeline, including onsite support for inspections, repairs and upgrades.
Gas engineers use specially rugged laptops onsite while performing maintenance work on the pipeline. The laptops allow the engineers to access information such as pipeline coordinates as well as record the data they collect while they’re onsite.
Northern Gas Networks has approximately 570 of these laptops at a cost of £2,500 each. Some of the laptops are fixed into maintenance vans, others are portable and can be carried by engineers to access and gather information directly at the point of work. Paul Tate, IT Manager is responsible for managing these devices, keeping them in working order and ensuring they have the proper software installed.
These expensive laptops were not always returned from the field. Devices would go missing and Northern Gas Networks had no way to determine where they were or who was using them. The company needed to find a cost-effective way to protect these laptops, an investment of almost £1.5 million.
Northern Gas Networks upgraded their laptop deployment and purchased devices that had Persistence technology from Absolute built into the firmware. Tate was intrigued and decided to test the technology. It turned out this was exactly what the company needed, providing the means to track and secure each device regardless of user or location. Tate purchased licences for all new laptops.
Now, if a device is lost or stolen, Northern Gas Networks can freeze the laptop and display a message on the screen for the end user asking that they return the device to IT. The number of missing devices has been greatly reduced. And if a laptop is stolen, the Absolute Investigations team initiates an investigation, collects evidence, and works with local police to recover the device.
Northern Gas Networks also uses Absolute for proactive endpoint security such as building geofences to contain devices, with an automatic alert triggered if a device strays beyond the company’s operating area in and around North England.
In addition, the Absolute Customer Center — a cloud-based console—provides Tate with access to information from each device such as where it was last tracked and any changes to device hardware and software. Data from each laptop is updated regularly and available in their Customer Center account, providing Tate with accurate and timely information about the entire deployment.