How Rugged Tablets and the IoT Can Affect the Future of Utilities in Smart Cities

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As cities and communities shift closer and closer to an IoT enabled reality, utilities are one of the main sector poised to streamline their functions and become the most technologically advanced backbone available. Millions of metering and sensing endpoints are ready and waiting to be accessed by project managers, IT specialists, and operations and analytics personnel.

Rugged tablets connected to the IoT can deliver long-term investment protection for city planning initiatives, positioning utilities for success and profitability whether they are introducing new plans for an emerging area, expanding networks for growing city centers, or updating old and aging infrastructure to meet new compliance standards.

Surveying

GNSS enabled tablets can use data collated from maps and blueprints to accurately define the parameters and locations of previously set lines, cables, and pipes. This data can be used to help plan expansions or complete replacements without causing issues due to cut lines or planned routes for new utility related builds.

Inspections

There are not enough inspection professionals in place in most cities to do more than a cursory check years apart on the thousands upon thousands of utility lines. Rugged tablets can help digitize and collaborate information, allowing inspectors to get more value out of their time and increase their productivity and efficiency.

Repairs

Utility workers in the field work faster, better, smarter, and safer when they have reliable, technologically advanced tools at their disposal. Rugged tablets are portable, lightweight, and able to be carried one handed or in a shoulder harness as well as mounted in a vehicle or on a utility crane or lift. Repairs can be completed swiftly even in adverse conditions like a weather event or widespread outage.

Monitoring

Monitoring and managing the real-time and near real-time data from smart meters and IoT sensors now being added to utility communications can be simplified with rugged tablets. Data capture, transfer, and storage is streamlined with data flow prioritized to systems and personnel required to utilize the information.

Smart cities require a public sector equipped with the tools, software, and devices they need to analyze and improve the design and operation of city and county services. The answer is an adaptive, obsolescence-resistant computing platform facilitated by purpose built hardware and software. Together, they can launch the utility industry into a bright new future powered by rugged tablets and the IoT.

 

Rugged Tablets and Drone Technology in Disaster Zones

Fire-and-Ice----How-Rugged-Tablet-Tech-Meets-Extreme-Temperature-Challen...Portable, military grade rugged tablets with scientific-grade GNSS and integrated RTK positioning are changing the way first responders and cleanup crews handle the aftermath of natural disasters. 

Tablets that are created with drone compatibility in mind have dual frequency GNSS modules to utilize real-time reference points from aerial photogrammetry and can swiftly create 3-D recreations of sites with 1-2 centimeter accuracy.

From forensic mapping to site reconstruction, position data derived from satellite-based positioning systems or captured by drones allows sites to be swept and cleared in short time periods and with an eye to the safety of both the public and response teams. Areas can quickly be checked for those stranded or trapped by rising floodwaters, and evaluate the safety of bridges or structures before attempting to send on-the-ground teams in to do recovery or site clearance.

Public safety teams, investigators, adjusters and other key personnel on field teams working the disaster zone can collect accurate data by utilizing tablet / drone technology. Rugged tablets designed for drone utilization are built to the same rugged specifications as tablets used by military and government teams, providing mobility and real time communication in a device that is intended to meet the demands of harsh environments: 

  • Lightweight, portable rugged cases deliver maximum versatility and portability, for office to vehicle to field use.
  • Sunlight readable displays allow viewing to transition seamlessly from indoors to outdoors.
  • Touch screens provide accessibility via stylus or fingertip writing.
  • Detachable keyboards allow fast data entry anywhere at any time.
  • Vehicle mounts deliver stability and the option to charge while on the move, and batteries can be swapped on the fly for maximum operating time.
  • Easily programmed side buttons and a directional pad are compatible with existing survey and GIS software.

These compact devices offer ultra-mobility combined with all the functionality of an RTK tablet. The combination of ruggedness and leading edge technology provides both flexibility and informational access that can be invaluable to law enforcement and first responders who need data they can trust.

City, county, and state governments can benefit from tablet / drone technology for use in times of natural disaster, to increase safety, drive efficiency, and deliver superior results for those seeking to remedy damage done by a storm or flood. Whether the threat is water, fire, or wind, rugged tablets can deliver fast, accurate mapping and make the jobs of those responsible for savings lives and restoring order safer with purpose built equipment.

 

 

 

Field Techs Need Better Tools – Rugged Tablets Fit the Bill

Four-Reasons-your-Company’s-Field-Service-Team-needs-Rugged-TabletsField service technicians rely on rugged tools that can withstand any environment and operate under grueling circumstances. They need mobile computing and communication devices that can do the same. From professional installation, maintenance and repair services, to telecommunications and public utilities, field technicians all face similar difficulties: tight schedules, the need for real time communication, challenging weather, and the need for easy data access and transmission.

Installation, Maintenance and Repair Services

Installation schedules can be hectic and require adaptation on the fly. Maintenance timelines can be extended due to budget cuts and insufficient personnel. Repairs an be urgent but require careful planning to pull off with time constraints and geographic challenges.  Unforeseen circumstances are the norm, not the exception, and rugged tablets can provide a way to deliver results on multiple levels by optimizing varied resources, managing a wide net of field workers, tracking orders and requests, and coordinating delivery of parts or equipment on demand with tight deadlines.

Telecommunications

The telecom industry needs a device that can easily withstand the elements, provide mobility and flexibility, and deliver constant access to work orders, schematics, online data, and testing tools. Rugged tablets deliver a streamlined experience that is similar to that of a phone, with more computing power and the ability to add modules for testing capability and run programs that seamlessly recreate system errors. Real time coordination with headquarters allows corrective prompts to be derived from analysis and translated into work in the field. This brings fast resolution to service issues and restores functionality and communications to areas with outages for residents’ peace of mind and corporate satisfaction.

Public Utilities

Customer management (both residential and business), estimated and actual capacities, regulatory compliance, and oversight and documentation can all present challenges for facilities in charge of managing sanitation, water, gas, or electric utilities. Rugged tablets can help ensure uninterrupted service, and manage resource allocation, maintenance, repair, installation, and service connections, disconnections, or transfers seamlessly for excellent consumer relations and appropriate handling of services across the board.

For field workers handling emergent issues to those performing routine, day to day tasks, rugged tablets fit the bill when it comes to tools built to do the job right every time. Technicians can efficiently handle all necessary parts of their job, including activities such as meter readings, system checks, water testing, telecom upgrades, and appointment rescheduling, with confidence.  Adding purpose built tablets to your field crews’ toolkits can help your team move into a new era of productivity, and ensure service related issues are handled promptly and effectively every time.

How Rugged Tablets for Utility Workers Facilitate Faster Recovery After a Storm

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As storm season continues in the Atlantic, utility companies brace themselves for the next big incident. Whether it’s hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in Texas, or flash floods in the Gulf, utility workers have to continually be prepared for working overtime to bring systems back online in the case of outages – and that means they need the best technology to assist them.

Today’s fast-response utility work crews require reliable mobile devices to streamline their processes, from managing service calls, to coordinating preventative actions between field teams and centralized plants, to conducting fast remedial outage efforts. Rugged tablets are becoming a primary source of diagnostic and repair-related data, as they are mobile, easy to use, well connected, and resistant against environmental obstacles such as extreme heat, unforgiving humidity, and torrential rains.

When temperatures soar to a hundred and twenty degrees outside, the interior of a utility work truck can tip the needle at one hundred forty, but a mounted rugged tablet will take the heat and still prevent throttling of processor power or device failure. Fanless designs mean dirt, dust, and mud are not an issue, and water resistant design fights back against rain and humidity.

Linemen can depend on rugged tablets to provide consistent support in the field, relaying real time data and delivering schematics on demand. Core work processes such as asset management and dispatch can be improved to enhance productivity and efficiency, delivering faster results and less downtime.  Every field worker who has a rugged tablet in hand is empowered with diagnostic tools to help them complete their tasks faster and more effectively.

A mobile-centric strategy is not only a way to improve day-to-day grid management but can be crucial to meeting customer expectations in a time of crisis. Rugged tablets become not just an option but a necessary tool for minimizing the effect of outages and getting systems back online as quickly as possible.  

Dispatch management becomes more effective than ever with improved route planning. Real-time collaboration between field teams and experts “in case of complicated errors in the system appearing during diagnostics appear make it easier to resolve issue on the fly. Actions can be expedited to reduce the duration of outage periods, with communication between all parties maintained throughout each recovery operation.

Adding rugged tablets to utility workers’ field kits is one of the most effective ways of improving recovery times during and after a severe weather event. Mobility plus real time communication is key to delivering excellence in customer service and keeping residents safe and rescue teams effective.

Smart Cities, Smart Devices – How Rugged Tablets are Updating Communities

Smart CitiesAs cities and communities expand, and require constant updating to remain viable, there is an ever present need for technology and innovation to keep pace. As cities get smarter, the public sector requires tools, software, and devices that can analyze and improve the design and operation of city and county services. Rugged tablets provide an adaptive, obsolescence-resistant computing platform which can be combined with additional software and hardware to create solutions to the challenges provided by city expansion.

Purpose built tablets provide long-term investment protection for city planning initiatives, with a low CAPEX and a high ROI. Whether city offices are faced with expanding utility networks or bringing existing buildings up to meet new compliance standards, rugged tablets can provide ways to assist on and off the field.

Utilities for smart cities can be updated, their performance followed, and bottlenecks or weaknesses swiftly identified using rugged tablets and appropriate software to track where the water or electrical lines are. Tablets are helping to find the water and electrical lines even in cases when original plans were lost, and updates are desperately required.

Building updates on structures affected by new ADA compliance can be developed and planned using tablets and scanning software to help determine flow and best positioning for ramps and walkways intended for mobility assistance. New buildings can be built with an eye to complete compliance from the beginning, and plans checked for efficiency using modeling software that anticipates the flow and speed of foot traffic.

For time sensitive projects, the full functionality of equipped rugged tablets for city planners can allow work to be done in the field without interruption; the full office processing and research power can be loaded onto tablets thanks to high processing speeds and connectivity, as opposed to a lower processing speed tablet that can gather data but must be taken back to an office setting and hooked up to transfer data and the main work performed on a desktop or laptop hooked into the mainframe.

Instead, teams can access everything that exists on the main processor from the field. While a data collector could formerly only collect the data, then once back in office have to upload it and do all the work, on a fully equipped and configured mobile rugged tablet, all data can be cross referenced with additional data from the headquarters, with a real time connection to city, county and state networks.

Since the tablet contains all of the programs that are required, and all files are accessible, significant work can be accomplished in the field and delays can be cut to a minimum. In harsh environments, rugged tablets maintain full functionality in the field, including when mapping in wetlands where moisture and mud can be a challenge. A rugged tablet dropped in the mud continues to function.

In addition to rugged tablets accessing headquarter data from the field, the office PCs can also reach out with remote access to tablets doing data collection in real time, this allows for full collaboration during project planning and execution phases and delivers real results with little or no downtime. City planners can work in tandem with project managers, construction and architectural teams, and inspection officers to complete projects on time and in budget.