Integration of Mobile Computing in Applications for the
Service Sector – Design and Implementation
Klaus-Georg Deck and Herbert Neuendorf
University of Cooperative Education, Berufsakademie Mosbach, Lohrtalweg 10,
D-74821 Mosbach, Germany
Abstract. For representative applications from the service sector, scenarios for
mobile systems are introduced, the similar structure of which can be described
with a common pattern. A prototype of its implementation is introduced based
on Web Services in Java, the landscape of the most important classes is de-
scribed. Technical implementation is done with a Blackberry handheld from T-
Mobile/RIM using push technology within the GPRS network.
1 Introduction
Due to the rapid development of telecommunication technology, widespread use of
mobile terminals and the increasing acceptance and use on the user side, new scenar-
ios for mobile application systems are arising in all sorts of areas.
Especially in the service sector, frequently services are rendered by em
ployees act-
ing on-site so that underlying business processes can be universally mapped using a
widely available IT infrastructure.
Existing applications based on a client server or Internet
architecture are enhanced
with mobile subsystems or they are being replaced with conventionally implemented
While the technological basis for supporting value chains beyond corporate
es has been created up to now using the Internet, nowadays Internet-based
standards, and especially Web services, are providing an infrastructure for integrating
mobile components.
More and more powerful mobile terminals create the technological prerequisites
for the use of these standards and in the meantim
e, they have become a suitable alter-
native to notebooks in regard to interface design and user interaction.
In the following, representative service scenarios with em
ployees that are working
on-site will be introduced and examined in regard to their potential for mobile busi-
ness process optimization. Then the structures that underlie these processes are de-
termined. These structures can be used for a standardized solution for integration of
mobile components.
Deck K. and Neuendorf H. (2005).
Integration of Mobile Computing in Applications for the Service Sector Design and Implementation.
In Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Wireless Information Systems, pages 71-80
DOI: 10.5220/0002541500710080
2 Application Scenarios
2.1 Rescue Services
Initial Situation
After an emergency call comes into the rescue control center, the relevant data (loca-
tion of accident, accident situation, estimated number of injured, etc.) is gathered in a
control system and is sent directly to an available EMT team by telephone using the
analog radio network.
The rescue team (emergency physician, EMT) proceeds to the site of the accident
and begins emergency care for the injured and transports them to the appropriate
hospital – usually after speaking with the control center. Next, the services rendered
are summarized in a service report.
Problems and Challenges
Due to bad voice quality and interfering environmental noises, incorrect information
is frequently transmitted, which leads to further time-consuming queries or even to
bad directions when driving to the accident location or the hospital [7, p. 156-158].
When transferring orally transmitted data in handwritten notes, there is also a danger
of losing information or recording it incorrectly.
There are often problems with assignments, both on the side of the emergency
team and from the control center due to frequency shortages and multiple teams hav-
ing to use the same radio channels.
Generally, the radios in the ambulances are fixed to the vehicle, which means that
no direct communication between the control center and the EMTs is available in
accident locations that are hard to get to.
The data privacy situation is also very unsatisfactory. With voice radio, the data is
transmitted without being encoded and can generally be heard by anyone. Various
data protection officers are dealing with this problem (see [3]) and are pushing for a
solution because emergencies usually involve highly sensitive personal information.
Mobile Solution Concept
The advised mobile solution intends to provide the EMT teams with mobile terminals
that are directly connected to the centralized control system. There, in addition to the
actual emergency data, the emergency vehicles and emergency team, technical and
staff equipment and the current availability status are also managed.
When an emergency call comes in, the emergency data is collected in the system
by the control center booker, and depending on the gravity of the accident, is assigned
to one or more available emergency teams, with the relevant data being automatically
transferred to the appropriate handheld. This simultaneously triggers an alarm signal.
After the team reaches the site of the accident and performs first aid on the injured
parties, the availability of OPs and beds in nearby hospitals can be determined de-
pending on the type and gravity of the injuries. Here there is no time-consuming
waiting for confirmation from the hospital or control center. The prerequisite for this
is that the availability information for the individual hospitals be maintained in the
control system.
In contrast to the conventional system, the mobile concept has the following advan-
Information is transmitted clearly and is constantly available on the terminal.
The data is only sent to the responsible EMT team and third parties cannot
unintentionally access it. This greatly diminishes issues with assignments.
EMTs and control center can communicate outside the ambulance as well.
The control center is constantly aware of the current status of the emergency
team (read confirmation of the emergency notification, drive to location of
accident, getting to site of accident, etc.).
Provision of selection lists on the handheld (for example, diagnoses) enables
efficient, standardized data entry.
The control system provides support in drafting the service report because
the majority of the necessary information was summarized automatically.
Mobile devices with telephone functions also enable direct communication between
the emergency physicians and hospital doctors without the need for transfer by the
control center.
The use of location-based services, in which GPS receivers or cell identification of
the location coordinates of the EMT team can be determined and stored in the system
provide more potential. This enables integration of route planning systems to deter-
mine the fastest route to the accident side or to the hospital. In addition, the distance
to the accident site can be considered when the emergency team is dispatched, for
example when they are on their way from the hospital to the station.
With direct addressing of the mobile terminal and the option of personal user authen-
tication, a high degree of data protection is created – when the cryptographic process
that is already established for the cellular phone network is used as well.
2.2 Outpatient Medical Services
Initial Situation
In facilities for outpatient medical services, software solutions for planning, docu-
mentation, and billing of health services have been used successfully for years. These
types of systems manage the personal and medical data for patients, various catalogs
of care and information on the medical qualifications and availability (time) of the
caregivers. Supported by the system, various health services that have been pre-
scribed can be summarized in a care schedule for a specific patient, and resource and
service plans for individual employees can be created using it.
The services performed are documented in the care schedule – generally in paper
form – and can be manually added to the accounting system later. At the end of the
billing period, the insurance provider can be billed.
Problems and Challenges
The manual entry of data from the care schedules into the system afterwards requires
additional personnel and the data update is delayed, sometimes by days. Illegible
handwriting or abbreviations that are individual to certain employees can lead to
additional questions or to incorrect information. If additional information is required
for a patient on site, this has to be retrieved by telephone or personally in the control
At the end of the shift, in addition to the patient-specific care information the em-
ployee has to create a report that summarizes the care times for individual patients,
the individual driving times and the kilometers driven in an overview. This job is
often considered a burden by the employees due to the sometimes redundant content
and due to the fact that it has to be done after the shift is done, that is once work is
Due to the delay in the manual data update in the main system, billing of the indi-
vidual insurance companies can only be done with a delay as well.
In outpatient medical services, the above problems are only enhanced by the rela-
tively large number of low-paid employees, because coordination problems occur
when several care providers are responsible for a patient with a short period of time.
Mobile Solution Concept and Result
Mobile terminals are already being used in some outpatient medical services, but data
updating is still usually being done only at the control center via cradle.
In this type of scenario, employee-specific service schedules are generated by the
central system with the associated patient-specific care schedules and are transmitted
to the mobile devices in electronic format, where they are available while the patient
is being cared for.
At the end of the care visit, the care provider documents the length of each of the
services performed that are displayed on the handheld in patient-specific selection
lists, where they only need to be selected. In the same place, information on how the
procedures went and any other important information on the patient can be noted.
In systems with mobile synchronization, this information is sent to the control sys-
tem in real time, where it is available to clerks and care providers, and as needed to
other mobile employees. If additional medical information is required for the patient
(medical history, further diagnoses, etc.), this can be requested from the control cen-
ter directly via handheld. Further information stored in the central system, such as
details for care procedures can also be sent to mobile users upon request.
The service reports for employees and care documentation for the patients is gen-
erated centrally by the system. They can be edited with word processors and then
printed. The increased quality and currentness of the data leads to greatly improved
quality assurance and the efficiency and effectiveness of the care procedures can be
more easily checked and controlled in this way.
On-site services can also be integrated into this scenario, perhaps in the route and
dispatch planning or when determining the kilometers driven.
2.3 Further Application Scenarios
Further service scenarios in which mobile computing could provide added value
could include:
Facility management
Mobile cleaning and maintenance services
Utilities companies
Logistics services
2.4 Summary
The opportunities and application potential provided by mobile services that are
available for companies, customers and of course, employees, can be summarized as
Currentness of information
High quality of information
Real-time transparency and active control of the business processes
Business process optimization by shortening process chains and reducing in-
tegration gaps
Faster billing – increase in liquidity and profitability
Improved customer service – increased customer satisfaction
Employee concentration on core competencies – increased employee satis-
Security of information transmission and data processing
3 Architecture
3.1 SB2ME Pattern
All of the applications introduced illustrate clearly defined, simply structured work
processes in which employees on site receive consistent, clearly structured order data
that can be highly standardized, and they process it on-site and send the results of the
work procedures back [11, p. 22 et seq.]. In this way, it is quite simple to show these
processes in the categories of communication between a control center and mobile
terminals. The origin and the starting point is the control center, where each business
process can be traced back to an individual employee. Data is not exchanged between
the various mobile employees, instead it is always transferred via the control center.
In the use-case scenarios for all applications, two actors can be identified: The ac-
tor Control Center, from which new orders are generated and the mobile employees
are coordinated and managed – and the actor Mobile Employee, who is the unique
recipient of an order and who processes it and sends it back to the control center. In
addition, mobile employees ask the control center for further information, but they
generally cannot change it.
The base pattern here is called the Simple-Business-to-Mobile-Employee Pattern
(SB2ME). It is characterized by:
Simple process and data structures (
Control center of the company (
Business) initiates the business process
The main impact comes from the control center and moves toward the mo-
bile employee (to-Mobile-Employee /
3.2 Technical Implementation
The systems are mainly implemented with a 3-tier architecture. The data from the
system is kept persistent with a relational database system for access by the control
center server. The business logic runs in the Web server of the control center server
with Java Servlet technology and the connected Web services. A browser-based Web
interface is used as the front end for the control center and a handheld is used for the
mobile employees (figure 1).
The data from orders that are not yet complete is made persistent at the client so
that it is still available once the device has been switched off.
For the application introduced above, reference implementations were made on a
common basis with MySQL as the database system and Apache Tomcat with Suse
Linux as the Web server (see [2]). Blackberry Handhelds from T-Mobile/RIM were
used as the mobile terminals. These are known for their highly developed ergonom-
ics, integrated e-mail and telephone capability, worldwide accessibility using the
GPRS network, high security standards (triple DES) and, last but not least, a freely
available Java development environment with handheld simulator (see [6]).
Fig. 1. The architecture of mobile applications
Another decisive reason for choosing this handheld was the option of exchanging
data using the Mobile Data Service (MDS) with HTTP protocol in the GPRS network.
In addition to providing quick, simple data synchronization, this service enables
“pushing” data from the control center to mobile terminals without the terminal hav-
ing to initialize synchronization.
Each individual mobile terminal has a unique ID that must be known in order to
use the “push” functions of an MDS service in access of the control center server.
The MDS server provides a status code for each data record sent to a Blackberry
handheld so that successful delivery of the data via the control center server can be
checked. Each order sent from the control center to the mobile terminal is assigned a
unique ID which allows all data to be uniquely assigned to one terminal and one
The mobile client makes full use of the technologies provided by the Blackberry
handheld, such as multithreading, persistent storage, network communication, etc. It
is becoming clear that mobile terminals like the Blackberry handheld have already
attained technical and ergonomic performance that up to now was only maintained by
notebooks. The Blackberry also provides integrated telephone functions that can be
used directly from the applications.
Communication between the instances of the whole application is based on open
standards (Web service and servlet technology): Both the control center and the mo-
bile terminal provide Web services.
Server side Web services are available for actions initiated from the mobile de-
vices that are connected to a servlet and that can be reached from the handheld (via
MDS) using the GPRS network. Because the client also offers Web services, bi-
directional communication can also take place using Web services (via MDS), which
means data can be sent from the handheld and / or data can be called from the server.
The connection via Web services means that the control center area and the mobile
terminal are loosely linked in terms of a service-oriented architecture so that the inte-
gration of alternative mobile terminals can be accomplished easily.
Web services on the control center side are implemented in Java using Apache
Axis as JAXRPC runtime, but it can be accomplished in other languages and in other
runtime environments, thus guaranteeing platform independence in regard to the
various control center systems used. To connect the application to an already existing
control center system, one only needs to integrate the Web service defined in a
WSDL file into the control center system. The Web service implementation on the
mobile terminal side conforms to Java Specification Request standards (JSR) 172 [4].
The freely available reference implementation of JSR 172 by Sun Microsystems [10]
was used. In order for the handheld to be able to address the Web services of the
control center, a stub was generated using the WSDL description, which takes over
communication with the server using HTTP in the form of SOAP messages (SOAP
Actions that are initiated by the control center – sending messages and updating
master data – are sent to the mobile device without previous query by HTTP push.
The data is transferred via HTTP as the carrier protocol in an application-specific
XML format. Parsing of the XML data on client site takes place via a SAX parser for
mobile devices that is also included in the reference implementation of the JSR 172.
3.3 Class Landscape
The implemented classes are grouped in the categories Servlet, Web service and Cli-
ent. The most important classes of each category are described as follows (figure 2).
3.3.1 Servlet
The control center system is represented by the class CSServlet. This class processes
requests from the control center terminal and triggers the classes XMLCreator and
HTTPPushServer. XMLCreator builds an XML-document representing application-
specific data (based on user input or on database content) to be pushed to the client.
This document is pushed to the mobile devices via
HTTPPushServer instances.
Communication between CSServlet and the database is managed by a class Con-
nectionPool providing a pool of database connections. These are represented as in-
stances of the class DBCon wrapping several java.sql-classes. Object-relational map-
ping is accomplished by application-specific classes. HTML on the control center
side is generated by the class PageBuilder. Its methods are invoked by CSServlet.
3.3.2 Web Service
The central class SOAPBindingImpl contains the implementation of the methods that
are invoked by the mobile device. Since simple data types can not be used as parame-
ters in method calls (cf. JSR-172), a class Transport is used as a mere data container.
3.3.3 Client
MBClient is the most important class for the client-application on the mobile device.
The MBClient instance is running permanently and only terminates if the device itself
is switched off. Therefore, push-messages from the control center can be received at
any time. In this case the application gets the focus and informs the user via a mes-
sage-box. The class XMLHandler acts as a wrapper for the blackberry-specific SAX-
parser. Extracted data is managed by the class DataManager storing it on the mobile
device via object persistence of J2ME.
The source code of the class ServiceStub is generated from the J2ME-Wireless-
Tollkit stub generator. It provides methods for Web service calls on the client side.
In addition, there are application specific classes (not shown in the class-diagrams)
responsible for several tasks: Screen-classes visualize the graphical user interface,
handle screen events triggerd by handheld-users and process data received from the
DataManager. Additionally, there are classes for receiving and sending data using
Web services via ServiceStub and for storing user input on the mobile device.
Web service Servlet
ushes client
triggers HTML
extracted data via
Web service
access via
MBClient XMLHandler
Fig. 2. The class landscape
4 Summary and Outlook
Many applications from the service industry with on-site employees offer a high
potential for mobile business process optimization. They have a similar underlying
structure from which a common pattern (SB2ME) can be derived for implementation
of mobile solutions. Based on the technologies and open standards currently avail-
able, these types of mobile scenarios can be used and are already stable and highly
available. The reference implementation introduced here can be used as a starting
point for realizing mobility for more complex applications.
Based on the expected continued development of mobile technology and on the in-
frastructure for the integration of mobile components in existing systems, as well as
the performance and ergonomics of mobile terminals, and last but not least, on the
increasing acceptance of mobile technologies in the upcoming generation, we can
expect that there will be more areas of application from a wide range of branches for
mobile computing.
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