Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Researchers Are Working On Safer Rescue Equipment

A company called GlowZone, Inc. has been working with photoluminescent (PL) products for years.  For those that aren't well-versed in chemistry, photoluminescent (PL) products glow in the dark.  The most common product on the market is probably the glow stick, which are throughout the emergency services industry.  However, until recently, these products were only available in the glow-stick form (which only lasted for a few hours) and in a flat tape (which really was more reflective than glow in the dark).  With some pretty impressive scientific breakthroughs, GlowZone, Inc. has managed to change that.  They have managed to make a PL product that can be used on multiple surfaces and maintains its brightness over time, as it recharges within seconds of being in sunlight.
Fire officer in a partially lit and completely dark stairwell with turnouts outfitted with GlowZone technology.
Although they have multiple applications for their technologies, one of the most beneficial has to be that of adding it to fire safety gear.  GlowZone makes your fire safety products photoluminescent, helping emergency crews locate and activate critical equipment; and preventing injuries from obstacles like fire extinguisher cabinets and hose racks, even when the building, hospital, hotel or mine is in total darkness.  They have most recently begun testing this same technology onto turnout coat and pants, making not only the tools more visible in the dark but the firefighters as well.

This technology was recently tested at a training center in Anaheim, California.  With the photoluminescent gear, the firefighters were able to reduce the time it took to find a down firefighter by 45 seconds, or approximately 30 percent. Those few seconds are huge in a life or death situation.  The below video shows the technology in action.

This new technology is currently only in the testing and research, it proving to be useful and effective.  Hopefully it will be available on the market soon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Product Spotlight: StarChase Pursuit Management System

High-peed police pursuits and the inherent risk of injury and death that can result constitute an important law enforcement and public safety issue. Police pursuits are dangerous. Available data indicate that the number of pursuits continues to increase, as well as the number of pursuit-related injuries and deaths. Federal statistics show that more than half of all police chases are triggered by such incidents  and that 40% of these chases result in crashes.  Officers face the basic dilemma associated with high-speed pursuits of fleeing suspects: Do the benefits of potential apprehension outweigh the risks of endangering the public and the police?

Unfortunately, high speed pursuits do happen.  StarChase has created a technology that virtually eliminates the need to put the local community at risk.  StarChase launches a sticky GPS tracker onto a fleeing vehicle. Police officers can then monitor this GPS signal through the dispatch office or through the computers in their vehicles.  As well as reducing the dangers and risks involved in police pursuits, the StarChase Pursuit Management System saves time, money and – most importantly – lives.

How Does It Work?

  1. A compressed-air launcher, mounted behind the grille of a police cruiser, uses a laser to target the fleeing vehicle. It discharges a projectile/tag containing the GPS module.
  2. The projectile adheres to the suspect vehicle and transmits coordinates back to dispatch.
  3. The dispatcher then views the location and movements of the tagged vehicle in near real-time on a digital roadmap via a secure Internet connection. 
See It In Action

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

eDarley Sweepstakes

W.S. Darley is a 100 year old family owned and operated company that specializes in products for fire and emergency services.  W. S. Darley & Co.'s involvement in the Fire Industry spans over a century and four generations of Darleys. They not only have a rock solid reputation for building quality products, but also for building strong relationships with Fire Fighting Organizations around the world.  Nowhere else will you find a company as dedicated to the Fire Industry. All this experience comes from a company that cares - W. S. Darley & Co. is customer driven.  The entire company is committed to customer satisfaction.  They pride themselves on the fact that even after 100 years in business you can still call and talk to them on the phone.

They offer thousands of products through their various catalogs and eDarley.com.  Darley builds Fire Trucks, manufactures Champion Fire Pumps and sells Fire Fighting and Emergency Equipment.  They offer everything from pumps, apparatus, pump systems, AutoCAFS, Odin Foam, and Ohler Pumps to on-site response equipment such as first aid gear, flashlights, hazmat, and other rescue tools.

They are currently running a sweepstakes on their eDarley Facebook page.  The contest is running through December 13, 2011.  By signing up on their Facebook page you can enter win a $250.00 gift card to be used towards the purchase of equipment from their company.
Click To View Fire Catalog

Monday, November 14, 2011

Automated License Plate Recognition

Automated License Plate Recognition, also known as ALPR, is one of the newest technologies to come available for police departments throughout the United States.  ALPR is a surveillance method that uses optical character recognition to read the license plates of vehicles (either parked in a parking lot or driving on an interstate).  In the United States ALPR is primarily used in the assistance of locating stolen vehicles, finding drivers with no insurance or suspended licenses, locating wanted persons, and even assisting with Amber Alerts.

How It Works

Recent changes in technology have made it possible to make ALPR mobile.  A mobile system is generally mounted on a patrol vehicle.  The cameras consist of infrared (IR) light emitting diode (LED) illumination, an infrared camera, and a color camera. Infrared illumination is used as almost all license plates are highly reflective to infrared which provides effective license plate image capture during day or night, and also eliminates the variability of plate backgrounds and colors by providing a clear monochrome image of the license plate.  The software algorithm identifies individual video frames containing a license plate image. The system will capture multiple images (one every 10-20 ms) of the plate as it passes through the field of view, with varying image capture settings with each picture to compensate for changing ambient conditions, plate-to-plate variability, and other variables. The cameras are very high speed, allowing for this process and effective image capture to take place at speeds of up to 160 mph.  The system automatically processes all pictures and cross matches it with a pre-loaded database of vehicle license plates.  If any suspicious vehicles are located, the officer is notified immediately on the Panasonic Toughbook or mobile data terminal mounted in their vehicle.  From there, the officer can follow appropriate protocol for their jurisdiction as the manner in which to proceed.

The Benefits

  • Efficiency - The average officer may check 50-100 plates during the course of their shift.  The ALPR can easily scan tens of thousands of plates in that same time frame.
  • Stolen Vehicle Recovery - Departments with ALPR statistically have significantly higher stolen vehicle recovery rates.
  • Officer Safety - Officers are aware of their surroundings and possible suspicious individuals prior to ever stepping out of their vehicle.  ALPR can be lifesaving during a traffic-stop.  
  • Elimination of Profiling Claims - Because the ALPR uses nothing but the license plate to alert the officer, it completely eliminates the suspects' claims that they were being profiled.
  • Increased Revenue - ALPR is instrumental in locating vehicles with outstanding parking violations and expired registrations, which leads to increased revenue.

ALPR In Action

Where To Get It
There are multiple companies throughout the world that specialize in the sales of ALPR.  One such company is NDI Recognition Systems.  NDI's US headquarters is located in Florida, however, they also have satellite offices in North Carolina and New Jersey. They are a primary dealer of ALPR software and peripherals in the United States.  NDI Recognition Systems sells the software that is being illustrated in the video.  They are the manufacturers of Veriplate, VISCE, and TALON.

How To Get It
With prices ranging upwards of $15,000-$20,000 per vehicle, most departments run into significant funding issues when they do decide to start adding ALPR systems to their fleet.  For many departments their only option is to request grant funding.  There are multiple federal grants that allow funds to be utilized for ALPR. They include: Edward Byrne Memorial (JAG) Program Grant, Byrne (JAG) Direct Grant, Project Safe Neighborhood Grant, and Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Grant.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Company Spotlight: RAM Mount

Most departments spend a great deal of time looking for the perfect mobile data unit for their vehicles.  Most of them make their final decision a Panasonic Toughbook, based on the reliability and ruggedness of the units.  What often gets neglected when looking to set up mobile data units is what to mount them on.  RAM Mounts makes a high quality mount that supports a wide variety of mobile computers and comes with a lifetime warranty.

RAM stands for Round-A-Mount and got its start in 1995. Most of the product line is based on a patented design revolving around a rubber ball and socket system.  The RAM Vehicle Laptop Mount is designed for most any car, truck, van, big rig and fleet vehicle on the road. These heavy-duty steel laptop bases are custom formed to fit specific vehicle models. This provides a laptop mounting platform for any RAM Vehicle Mounting System. Using the front bench or passenger side seat rail bolts as attachment points, existing hardware in the vehicle is all that is required to secure these laptop bases. This eliminates the need to drill any holes into your vehicles for mounting.  Because of their unique ability to absorb damaging shock and vibration, RAM laptop desks are the perfect choice for securing computers and electronics of any type.

RAM offers a full-line of vehicle mounting equipment that is created for the needs of law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, and even commercial businesses (such as construction or transportation).  Depending on the type of vehicle being outfitted, RAM Mounts can be acquired at a relatively low cost.  For example, the mount for a Ford Crown Victoria (the most common police vehicle) can be purchased as low as $199.99 from RAM Authorized Resellers.  Mounting options are also available for various other commercial vehicles, firetrucks, and ambulances.  For those that require more than just a laptop mount, console mounts (like the one pictured above) are an alternative option.  Console mounts give the option of a housing for in-car communications, radio racks, and even the electronic switches for the sirens of the vehicle.

The durable construction, lifetime warranty, and a price that is well below their competitors, makes RAM the ideal choice for departments that are looking to install mobile data units into their fleet.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Company Spotlight: EMS Consultants

EMS Consultants was established in 1989 in LaGrange, Georgia.  Since then, they have become a leading consultant to EMS companies in several states.  Although their business began as simply a software and consultant service, they have expanded in recent years.  Their services now also include medical billing.

EMS Consultants are the innovators of Prestige EMS Software Solutions.  One of their most popular Prestige products is the ePCR Software.  ePCR was developed by EMS Consultants to the specifications of the state run report for ambulance service. This software was developed to eliminate “paper work” by entering your trip report information and billing information into portable lap-top or notebook “remote” computers. This can then be downloaded into a main or “host” computer for transfer to your EMS Consultants billing program and to your state EMS office.  In recent years, it has become touchscreen compatible, making the Panasonic Toughbook the unit of choice for their software.

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 tends to be the unit of choice for EMS companies and EMS Consultants (it is actually featured in the print and video marketing of EMS Consultants).  What makes the CF-19 the best choice for EMS companies?
  • It's rugged.  The Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 is built to take a beating.  It can handle getting thrown around in the ambulance and getting dirty in the field.
  • It's lightweight.  Unlike other Toughbooks that weigh in at 7 pounds or more, the CF-19 is only 2 pounds.  This makes it easier to carry on-scene with other equipment.
  • It's touchscreen and a tablet!  The touchscreen makes entering data easier.  The tablet and stylus make capturing signatures onto forms paperless.

EMS Consultants has been referred to as one of the most trusted EMS consulting firms on the east coast.  Their customers have nothing but wonderful things to say about their customer service skills, particularly raving about the fact that they always speak to a representative.  For more information, EMS Consultants can be reached at 800-342-5460.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 Review

Panasonic Toughbook is synonymous with rugged laptop.  It has become the industry standard for police departments, fire departments, and EMS companies throughout the world.  Why is the the most used and most trusted?  Because it's tough!  Toughbooks are designed to withstand vibration, drops, spills, extreme temperatures, and rough handling.   The Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 is no exception!

What makes the CF-30 so great?
  • It's a Toughbook!  That means it is built to a higher standard than any other laptop on the market.  The failure rates on Toughbooks is nearly ten times less than all other laptop models.
  • It's built for what you do!  The CF-30 is specifically built to withstand vibration.  This means it is at home mounted in your vehicle bouncing down bumpy roads.  This vibration would destroy the hinges and hard drive on a standard laptop.  However, with their sturdy industrial hinges and shock-mounted hard drive a Panasonic Toughbook can easily withstand years of this type of abuse! 
  • You can drop it!  Although no one has the intentions of dropping their laptop on purpose, it happens.  Some first responders pull their units from their vehicles in an emergency. They are then used on-site or possibly on the hood or roof of the vehicle, leaving it prone to an accident.  With the CF-30, this isn't a concern, because it is built to withstand a six foot drop (approximately the roof height of your average SUV).
  • The CF-30 is both spill and water resistant.  Although it is not built to be used in excessively wet environments, it can withstand a bit of moisture.  This makes it a great laptop option for those that need to use it in the field in less friendly weather conditions.  The spill resistance is also a great feature for in the vehicle, where many officers are drinking and storing coffee near the machine. 
  • Like all other ruggedized Toughbooks, the CF-30 is built to withstand extreme temperatures.  This means it will function no differently in the scalding summer heat or excessively cold winters.    
  • The Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 has one of the brightest daylight readable screens of all of the ruggedized Toughbooks.  This means the screen is easily readable both in the direct sunlight and when being used at night.
  • Like all fully-ruggedized Toughbooks, the CF-30 is available in both a touchscreen and a non-touchscreen unit.  The touchscreen is non-digital, meaning it does not require a stylus for use.  
The Panasonic Toughbook is a great laptop choice for any emergency services personnel.  It is built to take the abuse of being used in a vehicle and in the field.  As if that weren't enough, it if a fast and functional unit that most departments find easily adapts to their individual needs.

Win a Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 For Your Department

Not all police departments, fire departments, and EMS companies can afford to purchase new Panasonic Toughbooks for use in their emergency response vehicles.  Some departments are funded by such small towns that the possibility of purchasing a discounted refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks is also a daunting task.  These departments are forced to deal with no or out-dated equipment that can be detrimental to their response times and services.

But, what if there were a way to change that?  Bob Johnson's Computer Stuff is currently running a program where officers and personnel of police, fire, and EMS departments can enter to win a Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 for their department!  As if that weren't enough, the entry process is simple!

To Enter:
  1. Go to Facebook
  2. Like Bob Johnson's Toughbook Stuff
  3. Fill out the entry form, complete with a brief essay about how getting a CF-30 would help both your department and your community
There are no department limits on entries (just one per person, please).  One lucky department will be chosen as the winner of a refurbished Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 no later than January 15, 2012.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Panasonic Toughbook vs. Dell XFR

They might call it "tough", but the Dell XFR is no match to the Panasonic Toughbook!  In an independent laboratory testing, the Panasonic beat the Dell in:
  • Battery Life Tests
  • Temperature Extreme Tests (hot and cold)
  • Static Compression Tests
  • Drop Tests
Below is a video of the comparison testing:

The Dell XFR suffered from hard drive failure during the temperature, static, and drop tests.  A hard drive failure is detrimental to the organization, as it causes the unit to be pulled from service until it can be repaired.  Based on shipment times and the chosen repair organization, this process can take anywhere from days to weeks.

Based on the testing, and our 15 years experience with Panasonic Toughbooks and the many alleged rugged computers out there, we highly recommend sticking with what works....the Panasonic Toughbook.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 LCD Replacement

The video below shows how to replace the LCD Screen in a Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 Laptop. This video brings you through the entire process from removing the bezel to how to remove the cables and hinges. Then our technician puts it all back together again.
Always remember, when working on your Toughbook to remove the battery and unplug the unit from the wall socket.
Here are the part numbers for the parts shown in this video: 0965V3 and 76109T -- Touchscreen Panel / LCD Bezel L5F30515P00 -- LCD Screen DFUP1580ZA - Touchscreen Board D2148-B001-M1-0 -- Inverter Board DFMC0863 -- Inverter Board Cover 70607 -- Hinges Left and Right DFKM0517 -- Rear Bezel cover with antennae wires. We feel that these are the correct part numbers since these numbers were printed on the part. We hope that this video is helpful in repairing your Panasonic Toughbook CF-30. Watch for more videos that show repairs on this model laptop. Still can't figure it out? We're Toughbook professionals who can replace the LCD for you, call us at 877-202-7788. We'd love to talk to you! :)

Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 Hard Drive replacement

Replacing the hard drive in the Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 ruggedized laptop is not like most laptop hard drive replacements. The CF-29 is a ruggedized laptop that can withstand vibrations, dirt, grime, water, hot and cold extremes. The hard drive, which is just a standard IDE 2.5 inch hard drive, is encased in a rubber sleeve and a non magnetic case. There can be some issues when removing the dead hard drive from the case.

We have created this video that shows the removal and replacement of the hard drive in the CF-29 Toughbook.

When doing repairs on any laptop you should follow some simple safety rules.

  1. Always make sure the AC adapter is unplugged.
  2. Always remove the battery from the laptop.
For this repair you need a small phillipshead screw driver and some patience. The technician doing this replacement has performed this operation several hundred times and has bragged that she can replace this hard drive in her sleep.