Friday, September 30, 2011

What does Rugged Mean?

Mobile computers presented for sale to law enforcement are considered ruggedized. Does the standard police force need to spend the kind of money that buys a rugged laptop? When you talk about new rugged laptops like the Panasonic Toughbook line of ruggedized mobile computers cost of ownership for a brand new CF-31can be anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000. If you have 25 police cars to outfit and your budget is slim, the cost is obviously a barrier. So question becomes – How do I outfit my vehicles with mobile technology that will still be usable after 3 or more years?

A rugged laptop by definition can mean a multitude of things to different people. Panasonic feels that a rugged laptop meets certain standards. Their rugged line of notebooks meet military standards – MIL-STD-810G and MIL-STD-461F. You read all of the specifics on the Panasonic website, the Military standards are located here.  In a nutshell here is what Panasonic has to say about these standards and their notebooks:
"Panasonic engineers continually work to ensure that Toughbook® products can withstand hard knocks and harsh conditions every day—and over the long term. Toughbook computers include many features that make them more durable and longer-lasting than conventional computers. They range from magnesium alloy cases and shock-mounted hard drives found on all Toughbook computers to the covered ports and fanless design that make fully-rugged Toughbook computers one of the most reliable in the industry. "
I have been selling the Panasonic Toughbook line of laptops for a number of years.  There are a things that you do not want to do with your Toughbook.  You do not want to drop it intentionally, dip it in a vat of liquid, or sand blast it.  I have some bad news.  The notebook will not withstand that sort of punishment.  Now I will say that they are definitely better built and can withstand the rigors of police work.  I have dropped these laptops and they do hold up well on impact.  Some repairs are required in most drop cases.  Overall however, the fully ruggedized Panasonic Toughbook line of laptops are definitely a much better choice than the standard laptop.  So they are the definite notebook of choice in a police car.
The question of affordability still means that budgets will be taxed when purchasing brand new rugged laptops.  I would like to suggest that by purchasing a refurbished Panasonic Toughbook that is 2 to 3 years old you can easily outfit all your vehicles and go easy on the budget.  With an average cost of $400 to $800 a used refurbished ruggedized police laptop gives an alternative to purchasing just standard laptops that would not last as long in a police environment.
With the refurbished laptops going easy on your municipal budget and outfitting all of your vehicles with units that have the capabilities to withstand the abuse of the law enforcement environment, mobile computing suddenly becomes an efficient, affordable and effective solution. 

Police Computer Technology

Everyone uses computers these days to get the job done, but law enforcement agencies rely far more heavily than others on instant access to critical data. Law enforcement needs the most reliable data available right away, but they also need mobile computing solutions that can withstand the pressures of working in the field. Extremes in dust, moisture, temperatures and abuse are the norm in the field. With the Panasonic line of ruggedized laptops these conditions are effectively accommodated. The standard in a rugged Panasonic Laptop is the Toughbook. Specifically the ruggedized models like the CF-28, CF-29 and the CF-30.

Law Enforcement relies heavily on reliable mobile computersThe Panasonic Toughbook line of portable computers are superior systems encased in magnesium alloy, field-tested for impact, extreme temperatures, dust and moisture. Police Departments are finding the Toughbooks to be invaluable. By utilizing a ruggedized laptop like the Toughbook, officers are finding that when you have working reliable tough laptop they are able to safely do their job with efficiency. The technology that is made available in the Toughbook line of Panasonic laptops improves the usability and control of the laptop in combination with the know-how and experience the officer on the street has acquired.
Using Toughbooks, Police officers can use mobile computers that are configured for law enforcement to scan pictures of criminals, run license plate numbers, and quickly connect with the precinct. They can pull up the past criminal history of an individual as well as access that individual's gang nicknames, home address and known associates not to mention any future database operation that may be required to add to this list. Law enforcement technology is changing so fast that the agency needs a laptop that can grow with the needs of the task at hand.
It's the mobile computing that are making some of the hardest jobs in the world a little bit easier. However the vehicle mounted laptop is only one aspect of how the police use a ruggedized laptop. These laptops after all are mobile and do not necessarily need to be permanently mounted in a car. They can be easily taken out and used to do the daily paperwork required at the end of everyday. This could actually eliminate the need for multiple computers. Thus saving money and time for the police force. After all what township or municipality would turn down an opportunity to save money and improve their mobile computing abilities?
Overall, the mobile computing choices are numerous. To be effective and efficient the ruggedized solution for the vehicle application must be flexible. The laptop must be ruggedized meaning that it can withstand extremes in temperatures, dust, and moisture as well as abuse. In addition, the laptop should reliably do the job at hand, viewing pictures of criminals, running license plate numbers and staying connected to the main office. All adding to a safe and successful day. Given the rugged construction and proven reliability of the Panasonic Toughbook, we feel that this model laptop would most definitely do the job.

Portable Computers and the Police Force

When it comes to portable computers in law enforcement. Several things come to mind and of course as mention in our Quality and Value in Mobile Computing article cash strapped township police agencies need to find affordable options to outfit their cars. A rugged laptop similar to the Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 seems to fit the need. There are some other concerns that must be addressed. These concerns include, upgradable units and service required for upkeep. These concerns are major and valid. After all no local or state agency wants to be non operational due to non-working laptops.
Lets take a look at these concerns one at a time. Which the first concern in my opinion is the most important even before the decision has been made to purchase. The plan of action should require that the laptops have a sustainable life which means that future upgrading may be required to either keep up with the most current crime fighting software. The effectiveness of any laptop mounted in any police vehicle can only be measured by how well it does it's job over a period of 3 years. So the question is – “Can a used laptop that is already 2 to 3 years old be useable and viable for an additional 3 years?”
My answer to this question is – Yes. However my answer should be defined by saying that it will require not only a reliable rugged laptop as the product but also the service and experience of the company that backs it up. When looking to purchase a used rugged laptop, the make and model are going to be basically compared and considered. What truly defines the trust in the product is the service that the company selling the unit can supply. The company should offer service on the product for as long as the unit is in use by the agency. In addition, a upgrade path should be offered with either accessories or unit trade-ins.Challenges of Mobile Computing
Once the buy decision has been made and the purchase is complete. The other concern should be – “What if this laptop stops working in 9 months?” Which is a very effective question. The challenges of daily hazards that are central to police work can and will create conditions which will not fair well for any laptop. This is where the experience and knowledge of the company supporting the laptop becomes important. Some support issues to address are:
  1. Do you have a fast repair turnaround?
  2. Do you have a Hot Swap program?
  3. Are your technicians trained in my laptops repair?
The answer to these questions should be an absolute Yes.
Value, quality and reliability tied with support are all valid aspects which need to be addressed. After all its easy to purchase a rugged laptop when simply buying based on price. In fact I challenge you to consider even deeper performance issues such as repair and upgradable laptops. Not only will your officers thank you, but more importantly your job will be easier and safer.

Quality and Value in Mobile Computing

Police departments coast to coast are looking for quality and value when purchasing state-of-the-art mobile computers. Most law enforcement agencies require that their mobile computers are rugged, this type of quality durable product gives the security of 24/7 up time. Given the current economic times and with state and local governments having budget crunches, value is of up-most importance. So the question is “Where can a cash strapped police department find quality and value?” There are a few options which include purchasing new name brand rugged laptops like the Panasonic Toughbook, tapping into the refurbished market or purchasing an off brand rugged computer. We will review each of these options and give some idea as to the best viable answer to the quality and value question.

When local and state governments look for value in the computing solutions they need, they require the products to be efficient and effective. In other words they need BANG for their BUCK! If we look at the cost of brand new equipment, the investment in that technology can be enormous. Let's face it, budgets are tight and getting tighter, this equates to some real belt tightening. So what is the solution to a slim budget, great technology that will do the job at hand, provide a reasonable life span and have the ability to upgrade at a reduced cost.
We feel that the solution is easy. Consider refurbished or sometimes referred to as used laptops. To take a look at this option will require a certain amount of knowledge about your specific use and application. In most cases, cutting-edge technology is not required in a police vehicle setting. In most cases all that is used is a broadband solution with some light software. What is very important is to understand the environment that this laptop will be subjected to on a daily basis. During the summer months temperatures are boiling while in the winter temperatures can dip below zero in some areas. In addition, liquids may be spilled on the laptop. This requires a water and temperature resistant unit not to mention the vibrations that this mobile computer will endure. A rugged laptop is the order of the day.
The rugged laptop of choice for mounting in a police cruiser is a brand new Panasonic Toughbook CF-30. However if you are reading this article about law enforcement you know that your budget would take a major hit by purchasing this model which has an average cost of $4,000 each. Just one model older than this unit is the Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 which will typically cost between $300 to $600. Features that are very popular are touchscreen, WIFI, GPS, and Back Lit Chick-let keyboards. The entire unit is ruggedized with water tight doors to protect all the ports as well as vibration proof hard drive and chassis. Simply add your broadband device and mount in the vehicle with a Ram Mount made to fit your model car.
When quality and value are the order of the day. Used ruggedized laptops like the Toughbook CF-29 are an excellent choice for cash strapped township police departments.

Use of Technology in Law Enforcement

Use of Technology in Law Enforcement

When dealing with computer technology and law enforcement, police forces deal with both the criminal elements such as internet predators and hackers, as well as the power to capture criminals faster and easier. The advancements in technology for government agencies, police forces and sheriff departments have improved the safety and speed at which they work in crime-fighting efforts. Police officers with notebook computers in their cruisers can do a vast amount of tasks. We will explore some of the labor saving technology and safety factors that have redesigned the way law enforcement officers do their jobs everyday.

The power to capture criminals faster and with ease can be accomplished by having the right technology right at the police officers fingertips. We have explored the type of law enforcement laptop works best in a police squad car. Now we will look at the tasks that can be accomplished by have a mobile computer readily available. One area that enhances safety for both the public and the officer is the ability to access databases on-site to check credentials of motorists. Another use would be checking the backgrounds of individuals that the police would be interviewing. The real time information might give insight to motivation or history of the person. Thus allowing a decision to be made regarding to quickly apprehend the perpetrators or to allow that person to go.

Other tasks like writing reports and notes about situations while the events are still fresh. Cataloging crime scene evidence, and then manage the database of that evidence. All these tasks performed on site with a rugged laptop. These laptops would normally be mounted in the police vehicle yet can easily be removed and used. Of course all of this technology is good as long as the budget allows it. Which in today's economic environment can be difficult. Which is where refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks can come into play. By purchasing ruggedized units, savings can be in the thousands of dollars per unit given that the average price for a brand new Toughbook can be $2,000 to $4,000 each. Where the price for a refurbished slightly older model can be between $300 to $900.

When you factor in the cost of ownership with the reliability and longevity of a ultra rugged laptop like the Panasonic Toughbook CF-29. The cost basis looks even better. By combining the uses and the fact that a ruggedized laptop has a longer life than normal laptops the police department can actually be commended on cost cutting and being very budget minded. After all, what police chief or sheriff would not want to be recognized as being a fiscally responsible leader?

The Police force can leverage their purchasing power by buying refurbished equipment thus increasing their ability to capture more criminals and ending the day safely. We have explored the many uses of rugged laptops mounted in vehicles. As well as seeing how a laptop must perform while in the car. The reasons for ruggedized laptops for both performance and rugged ability are numerous and we discuss this topic in the articles listed below.