3G does not work as a reliable connection solution for fast access. How many of us moan about poor mobile signals in buildings?
33000 people is not a lot. If you have an offline copy of a database it may be that you simply have the version that covers secondary schools. That wouldn't even cover our secondary students in Northants.
So, again, I ask you, would you allow them to connect to your network?
Ok, 3G isn't perfect - but put it this way, I work in an area where phone signals are well known for being terrible, and I still make use of 3G/GRPS - if a system won't work over slow connections, it should be altered so that it should. But then again, yes, I would allow them to connect to the network, if I were given the go-ahead by SMT and had checked to ensure their machine isn't riddled with viruses, (when I have some spare time, I will be looking at creating a DMZ but until then, intrusive checks on their machines will have to take place), if they couldn't connect via their own device. There is no excuse for carrying around data!
And where are you coming from?! 33,000 people is a lot!! The 33,000 people involved will be thinking it is a lot! As will the information commissioner's office.
It is the attitude that 33,000 people's data isn't a lot, and that servers are unreliable etc... that is perpetuating this data loss problem. No-one is taking it seriously. It will not be long before the government finds itself defending itself from a list of civil cases. When it starts costing the local authorities, government departments and subcontractors millions in fees and fines, is that when they will take data security seriously?
Put it simply, if I ever receive a letter stating that my data has been lost by some idiot organisation that doesn't encrypt their data, or allows staff to carry around 'offline copies' of databases, I will be talking to a solicitor. Everyone else involved in these situations should be doing too.