by CIO New Zealand

Wanganui District Council equips field staff with Windows8 rugged tablets

Jun 25, 20142 mins
Technology Industry

The Wanganui District Council has equipped its field staff with Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1.

“We’d been waiting for a Windows 8 rugged tablet and now we have a device where the hardware is matched by the operating system. User experience is key and this package delivers,” says Jason Simons, information services manager, Wanganui District Council.

“Providing field engineers with the information they need to do their jobs has been a driver for the Council for the past five years. In the past, that information, whatever it was, was paper-based. That meant it was frequently out of date, difficult to read and a constant hassle when working collaboratively to know who had the most recent version,” says Simons.

The new system replaces this paper-based process. Simons says the availability of a complete Windows machine, with all the usual applications, completely changes the game. When the engineers are back at their desks, the FZ-G1 goes into its docking station and operates as a standard desktop.

“Laptops aren’t really ideal for field work as you need a flat surface, you need to start the machine and log on; you’d need 10 to 15 minutes before you can actually be productive,” he notes.

With another part of Wanganui District Council using Toughbook laptops, Simons was aware of developments in Panasonic’s rugged technology lineup. “However, for our inspectors and other field staff, we specifically wanted tablets and we specifically wanted Windows-based machines.”

The initial deployment of the FZ-G1s are targeted at field engineers, who use the devices to access a cloud-based Geographical Information System (GIS). “In many instances, these users are looking at assets which are buried under their feet. When contractors are doing work, they can access the GIS system while peering into excavations and update the information contained on the system right at the minute.”

This is just one field use of the devices, but it is important. “Councils have billions of dollars of assets underground,” says Simons. “Management of these assets is critical – and it is not often you get to inspect them, so every opportunity you get, you want to maximise.”