Story image

Local Kiwi councils turn to Panasonic Toughpads

12 Jan 2015

Local councils across New Zealand are turning to ‘rugged technology’ as more of their work heads outdoors. 

A growing number of Panasonic Toughbook and Toughpad products are being deployed among key personnel, equipping them with devices capable of going anywhere council staff do their work. 

Richard Thomas, IT manager at Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, says ‘tough technology’ is a better bet for outdoors work. “We decided long ago that a ‘normal’ computer isn’t the best idea on, for example, a building site where you have to cope with dust, potential knocks and drops and other harsh characteristics of these environments,” he explains.

“Our Toughbooks have survived just that for over four years now with no trouble whatsoever.”

Jason Simons, information services group manager at Wanganui District Council says “tablets have become very useful tools in the workplace as they allow applications and technology to easily go with personnel in the field.

"However, for many council activities, you need something which is capable of handling knocks, drops, spills and splashes, and, while it may not seem a major issue, you really do need something that can be viewed clearly outside.”

Simons says WDC initially tested standard tablets but quickly found their limitations, particularly for what he calls ‘infrastructure areas’ – staff members tasked with building inspections and management of drains, roading and other council property. 

“These are our extreme users; we’ve found the Windows 8 Toughpads to be an ideal solution not only as a tablet device for the field, but as a complete desktop replacement,” he says.

The Panasonic’s Windows 8 Toughpads are a complete Intel computer, with RAM, processing power and SSD drive capacity comparable to that of a desktop PC, self-contained in a device with a 10.1-inch screen. The Panasonic has also been expanding with two Windows 8.1 Pro models now available; the 10.1-inch FZ-G1and the 7-inch FZ-M1, along with a new 7” Celeron model running Windows 8.1 standard.

Staff members are able to use one device, which can be docked at their office workstation but can also be taken into the field. 

While delivering considerable convenience for the employee, there is a further benefit, Simons says. “There isn’t any need for synchronisation or double-keying of information and we have fewer devices to look after, from a support and management perspective. And because these are Windows devices, our enterprise applications work seamlessly on them.”

Thomas affirms Simons’ mention of the necessity for a daylight viewable screen and also points out how tablet features such as cameras and dedicated GPS become a major advantage for council work.

“The availability of a camera on the FZ-G1 Toughpad is a real advantage as inspectors can take geotagged photographs of sites where work needs to be completed and include them in reports, saving a lot of hassle,” says Thomas. “In addition, the visibility of the screen is especially important and something you won’t get with a regular tablet.”

Simons has confirmed the Wanganui District Council has expanded the use of the devices in its environment. “We’re moving through our field staff to see where Toughpads are the best tool for the job,” he says.

“Wherever we have a need to either capture or retrieve information – and with council a landlord and property manager, there are a lot of such environments – and whenever we have anyone in a truck or car or environment which isn’t nice and clean, then we look at deploying the Toughpad.”

Simons says his staff members’ devices are the ‘envy’ of employees of neighbouring councils. “We do a lot of work providing support to our colleagues in adjacent localities and yep, there is some jealousy that our people have the best tools for the job,” he remarks.

Flashpoint announces new features on intelligence platform
The platform now features new dashboards and analytics, expanded datasets, chat services and communities, and industry alerting.
Hitachi Vantara to offer data protection as-a-service
Hitachi Vantara has introduced data protection and data storage offerings that embrace the as-a-service model and come as pre-engineered, fully managed services.
TIBCO aids in effort to boost Vietnam's data talent pool
Training will include ways to understand data analytics, and skills to support the country’s push towards digital transformation.
Tech leaders already seeing the impact of automation
“It is our strongly held belief that the prosperity of New Zealand is inextricably linked to how well our organisations embrace a digital future."
Snowflake & Anodot to offer AI-based anomaly detection
Customers will have access to Snowflake’s built-for-the-cloud data warehouse and can receive instant alerts and insights from Anodot for potential issues before they cost customers significant ROI.
ABS and Google Cloud partner to demonstrate the feasibility of AI-enabled corrosion detection
The project successfully demonstrated the accuracy of AI in detecting and assessing structural anomalies commonly found during visual inspection.
Aerohive launches guide to cloud-managed network access control
NAC for Dummies teaches the key aspects of network access control within enterprise IT networks and how you can secure all devices on the network.
Sungard AS named DRaaS leader by Forrester
It was noted for its disaster-recovery-as-a-service solution’s ability to “serve client needs at all stages of their need for business continuity.”