Rugged Computers – Moving the FS towards Cutting Edge Mobile Technology

By admin  -  On 20 Oct, 2010 -  0 comments
How excited would you be if you could go into the field and not worry about your computer falling and breaking? Or being able to stay in the field and not have to go back to the office just to check your email or do paper work? Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s) and Special Agents will now get that experience.

 Approximately 679 Panasonic Toughbook CF-30 rugged computers have been distributed to all Forest Service LEO’s and Special Agents.  Beginning October 1, 2010, the computers will be hard-mounted into law enforcement vehicles to create traveling offices for law enforcement personnel. The Panasonic CF-30 rugged laptop meets all military standards for environmental conditions—conditions Law Enforcement officers confront everyday in their daily duties. The Laptopcan take the washboard dirt road vibrations, dust, bright sunlight, and is even usable outside of vehicle operations in all weather conditions.  

Some of the many tools now available to law enforcement through these laptops include a cellular modem, a touch screen that is visible in all light conditions, a biometric fingerprint reader, and a portable printer. The officers can also utilize GPS, along with cellular connection, to execute applications such as the computer program Maptech Terrain Navigator Pro.  Maptech Terrain Navigator Pro uses USGS topographical data tocreate 2D and 3D map images to provide law enforcement better terrain information and road data.  Other enhancements include an embedded Qualcomm GOBE Air Card that provides pervasive cellular connectivity no matter where law enforcement travels and retains the ruggedness of the computers.

 Perhaps the biggest benefit of the laptops is the reduction of time officers will have to spend in the office.   By having secure access to necessary databases and information in the field, officers will now be able to complete reports onsite, reducing the time spent traveling to and from offices and the reducing the time spent in offices. This will allow officers to spend more time on the forest assisting the public.

 Recently mobile computing technology and wireless connectivity technology have developed to the point that enterprise solutions can be found that will enhance field level safety, data collection capability, on the spot retrieval of decision support information, and real-time communication through voice, data and visual mediums.  FDA-MC is a CIO-Electronic Government internal efficiency initiative to define and implement a national roadmap for automating field business processes.  FDA-MC figures out how to get field employees where they want to be—the field.  By evaluating technology to determine its ability to survive in the field, the FDA-MC can provide feedback to field employees on which products will work best and survive both the field and technology upgrades.  For more information on other field-tested rugged equipment visit the FDA-MC website.  

Additional projects currently being worked on within the mobile computing area include a test base of computers to capture business requirements for Fire and Aviation.  Computers have already been deployed in Region 6 to several heavy engines, command vehicles, and helitack support vehicles to capture needs and requirements.  The results of the test computers will help develop the business requirements for an enterprise level solution to providing Fire and Aviation with an equivalent rugged computer that will fulfill their needs in the field.  CIO News – October 2010 –