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Mobile Mapping Feature - Fast & Accurate Asset Mapping - In 2013, the county (Monroe County MI) embarked on a project to create a GIS basemap of the entire South County Water System--approximately 220 miles of water main. The project would be handled by the county's engineering services firm, Saginaw, Mich.-based Spicer Group Inc

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    How tough is the Job? The question of whether to use a non rugged phone E-mail
    Written by Mike Berzinis   
    18 April 2012

    The question of whether to use a non rugged phone or IPad for data collection is coming up more often than ever.  It’s a reasonable question since these devices are very powerful, seemingly cheap, have great apps and are easy to use.  I love my Android phone, but I’ve come to realize it has its place.   An important question to ask is: what kind of hardware is appropriate for my data collection needs?    You can first examine this question further buy asking if your mobile device could be subject to the following conditions:

    * Moisture, including sweat
    * Extreme temperatures
    * Direct sunlight
    * Impact
    * 6 or more hours of continuous processing (not just on)
    * Operating with gloves on

    The majority of smartphones and consumer grade tablets are not constructed to withstand inclement conditions. If these conditions are even a possibility, you may want to consider a device with an IP (Ingress Protection) or Military (Mil) rating which indicates the device has been tested according to certain ruggedness standards. 

    --If a device does not have an IP rating, such as is the case with most smartphones, it has not been tested for ruggedness---

    Envision two scenarios while using a phone for data collection:

    You’re collecting data in the woods and you drop your phone in a stream, water gets inside it.

    You’re collecting utilities data over concrete, the phone drops and the screen cracks.

    In each of these scenarios you’ll most likely be going to your carrier for a new phone, or filing an insurance claim.  Everyone likes waiting around for 45 minutes in their carrier’s store, right? Worse than that is being without a phone, your contacts and applications you use every day. 

    ---A phone’s true price is $600 to $800 spread over a phone plan contract period--

    If you need to do production data collection in inclement conditions, think carefully about the device being used.  There are options for “ruggedizing” phones with cases or enclosures. Cases and enclosures are not IP rated so they can only go so far in making a phone rugged.  Also, they may seal the device such that it cannot be used as a phone.  Here a few more benefits most rugged devices provide:

    * Longer battery life, usually at least 6 hours but up to 12 hours
    * Durable attachment points for straps or lanyards to tether device when not in use
    * Frames which protect screens from cracking when impacted or dropped
    * High visibility colors in case the device is misplaced or lost
    * Buttons which are tested for impact and repetitive use

    While phones and IPads can work for certain projects, they may not for more intensive data collection efforts.  There are numerous whitepapers which show the total cost of ownership for a phone is greater than a rugged device.  In short, a quality rugged device can reduce risk of downtime, save money and stand up to the elements.  On the next data collection project you could decide to keep your phone in your pocket.  Then after that hard day in the field the phone will still do all the things it’s supposed to do.  Best of all, you won’t spend time on hold, or sitting in the cell phone carrier store waiting...

    -Mike Berzinis This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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