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Mobile Computing Installation Tips

Written by Stephen Mullin

The inside of an emergency vehicle has truly valuable real estate. And in the ever-changing world of mobile technology, an endless range of hardware, technology and equipment can be integrated into a vehicle to help officers do their jobs. Computers, tablets, docking stations, radios, emergency controls and more. Working through all of these options to configure an optimal solution is nothing less than a challenge. But the challenge does not end there.

Deploying and installing a mobile technology solution into a vehicle fleet can be a complex, time-consuming and potentially dangerous task. Consistency in installation from one vehicle to the next is critical. Safe installation processes are required to protect the vehicle user and the vehicle performance. And minimizing vehicle downtime while, at the same time, quickly deploying the solution into the entire fleet is essential. In the end, a solution isn’t a solution if it isn’t properly installed.

In recent months, that was exactly the challenge faced by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Florida Highway Patrol—how to deploy their computer solutions, complete with mounting equipment, wiring and voltage protection, into their combined statewide vehicle fleets of more than 2,100 vehicles. For a deployment solution, both turned to nationwide installation services provider First Mobile Technologies, FMT.

Both projects began with a thorough review of the fleet, including the cataloging of vehicles types, locations and currently installed equipment. From this information, a detailed project installation plan was developed to ensure that the technicians and equipment would be staged and ready to go on the designated installation day. Equally important, regional installation locations were established to minimize the distance vehicle users had to travel, therefore, reducing vehicle downtime. In total, 15 different installation points were used across the states of Tennessee and Florida.

In September 2005, the Tennessee Highway Patrol installation began. With trained installation technicians stationed at two key locations in Falls Branch and Nashville, FMT integrated a mobile solution of commercial grade Dell Latitude D610s into a diverse fleet of Ford CVPIs, Chevy Impalas and Ford Explorers. Using a preset schedule that identified which vehicles would be installed on which days, the coordinated effort took less than 12 days to complete and kept public safety vehicles where they needed to be—on the road.

“Our installation processes are designed to be both consistent and safe,” said Bill Metz, president of First Mobile Technologies. “Different technicians installing things their own way from one vehicle to the next is absolutely unacceptable, especially in a public safety vehicle.”

In January 2006, the Florida Highway Patrol faced a similar situation with its fully rugged Itronix GoBook computers, docking stations and mounting equipment. And its deployment was more than four times the size. With almost 1,900 vehicles spread across the state, FMT used the same thorough approach on a larger scale. Drawing on technicians from regional installation service centers, FMT staffed 13 installation points to work through the project.

“If it’s not installed properly, it’s going to cause a ton of trouble,” said Steve Hasseman, law enforcement staff director for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which secures more than 590,000 acres of land and more than 2 million acres of lakes, inland waters and streams.

ODNR counted on FMT for the installation of its Itronix GoTablets and FMT mounting equipment into its diverse fleet. Safe and quality installation was critical because, according to Hasseman, “We were going to have [our mobile technology] on boats, vehicles, off-road, just because of the line of law enforcement we’re in.”

Stephen Mullin is the vice president of marketing for First Vehicle Services and First Mobile Technologies. He may be reached at stephen.mullin@fvs.firstgroupamerica.com.

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2006

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