Camden Borough Council has announced an ambitious plan to equip its entire laptop population with Absolute Software’s ‘hardwired’ theft-and asset-tracking system, Computrace.

The Council has already installed the disk encryption, remote wipe and Lojack remote tracking system installed on 1,300 laptops with a further 700 plus 150 BlackBerry smartphones due to get the same treatment in due course.

The purpose of the system is recovery of lost or stolen laptops which can be tracked through Absolute’s BIOS-level Computrace system by the company’s Theft Recovery team. The system also allows for remote wiping for data security purposes.

The technology has a less obvious but potentially useful secondary feature that allows devices to be “geo-fenced”, with warnings sounded if any are moved outside pre-defined geographical zones.

The Council will also be able to use the system to work out how many laptops it has in use at any one time, analysing how and where they are being used as well as, possibly, under-used. Computrace, then, is a way of extending the Council’s conventional asset management system using realtime data.

“When it comes to the public sector, effective IT security and data protection are not optional, they are essential,” said Absolute Software EMEA general manager, Dave Everitt. “If one of our laptops is lost or stolen, we can say it was password protected, it was encrypted and – because of Computrace – we can remove the data, and even have the means to recover it.”

Absolute Software has had some success selling its software into niche private sector organisations in the UK, but the Camden project counts as its most significant public sector deal to date. Camden is one of London’s largest councils, serving 230,000 people.

Because of the low-level integration the system requires for the full gamut of security features, it is not compatible with all hardware, however. A list of compatible products can be found on Absolute’s website.