Wondering how you can access your work schedule from your mobile device? There are a few different ways this can happen, but one widely used method is through something called iCal. This allows for you to easily access a read-only view of your schedule from wherever you are.
What is it?
iCal (aka iCalendar or ics) is a Web Calendar Server used to display read-only feeds of schedules. This way, ics files can be shared on multiple platforms.
In simple terms - this is a calendar on the internet that allows you to view all your schedules, in one place, on your phone.
Apple created their calendar app and called it iCal. But the iCal we are talking about here is not just for Apple products. It is the name for sharing calendar information. So, while it is a little confusing, just know that iCal is used for any device to share calendars.
The applications that allow for your computer and smartphone to subscribe to iCalendar feeds include Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, Outlook, and more.
This way if you have calendars on more than one of these applications, you can view them both in one place thanks to iCalendar.
So, for example, if you keep your work schedule in Outlook, but want access to see that schedule on your phone calendar, you can export the calendar from Outlook. It will give you a link/URL that you can then import into your phone calendar. That way both schedules are visible in one place.
How can I use it?
If you have your schedule anywhere online, it should be exportable and adaptable with iCal. You will need a URL from the calendar of choice that you want to view.
When going into your device and opening up the default calendar, there will be an option to add a calendar. From there you will insert the URL, and the schedule will show up on your calendar.
Each export will be a little different and have different instructions, but you should be able to find it from your provider.
You can visit Googles help page to learn more about how to import/export your Google Calendar.
What other options are there?
The internet and smartphones allow for many different options on the go. While some are not as convenient, they are still available! You can access your calendar from:
1. Scheduling software/ Police schedule app (online) - Full functionality, visibility to everyone else's schedule BUT takes time to log in, open schedule, etc. and can't see your other items stored on phone personal schedule.
2. Shared documents online (ex: google docs & sheets) - Can access from anywhere and edit BUT everyone else can make changes as well and will have to take the time to open the app, find the correct document.
3. Document received through email - You have a copy of your schedule accessible on your phone through an email attachment BUT will take time to go into your email and open it, and it may be a difficult format to adjust on your phone.
For our users, we offer the software online but also give the option to add their calendar to iCal. If you access it online, it will give you full functionality. So, you can request time off, offer to work open shifts, etc. From iCal, you will only be able to view your personal schedule. There are no interactions that can be done through this. It just gives you another outlet to view your schedule from.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often is my calendar updated?
The calendar export will always display the most up to date version of your schedule. Your calendar software will only request an update at a set interval. Some products make this configurable (Microsoft Outlook) while others the interval is unknown (Google Calendar).
Can I share my calendar URL?
Yes. If you choose to share your calendar URL you may do so with anyone
Can I edit my shifts in my calendar software?
No. Your calendar software subscribes to a read-only version of your shifts. It is not possible using the iCalendar technology to post updates back to the source.
The point of iCal is to access a certain calendar (say your work calendar/schedule) in your default calendar app on your phone. It allows you to see all your different schedules in one place.
PlanIt Police scheduling software supports iCalendar. PlanIt is a web-based program, so you can already access it from wherever you are. However, it may be useful to export with iCal for easier access (one click, no login) or if you want to line it up with another schedule/calendar.
If your department is looking for an easier way to access work schedules and increase visibility, check out some mobile friendly, online officer scheduling systems. For more information about scheduling software, check out these articles:
- The Best Features for Police Scheduling Software - 2016 Recap
- 6 Tools That Make 24x7 Police Scheduling Easier
- How to Manage [And Reduce] Overtime With Police Scheduling Software
See how scheduling software helped the Clovis Police Department schedule more efficiently.
Download the case study below!