The Dutch scientist Peter-Jules van Overloop found that that monitoring mechanisms he had installed on canal systems were constantly breaking down. However, his mobile phone almost always worked in these locations.
This led him to develop a new approach that uses a smartphone linked to a central monitoring and control system. The video below does a great job of explaining how a smart phone can be used to aid in the control of these systems. Similar methods could be used as a means of providing documentation and control for a wide variety of applications.