Founded in 1993, Montreal-based gtechna builds software applications for parking enforcement and public safety departments throughout North America. Its Android e-Citation software unifies parking enforcement technologies into an integrated parking management solution.
Since 1993, Gtechna has been helping North American municipalities make sense of the parking technologies patchwork. The Montreal-based firm creates “e-citation” (ticketing) software that integrates various parking technologies into a single enforcement system. Once its software is loaded onto a rugged handheld tablet, parking officers can capture data from a vehicle electronically.
gtechna was searching for a rugged handheld tablet that would let parking and traffic enforcement officers perform their jobs more efficiently and in all types of weather. The tablet had to have enough computing power to support gtechna’s electronic ticketing software on the Android 4.2.2 operating system.
Panasonic released the Toughbook FZ-X1. The 5-inch handheld combines military-grade toughness (including a 10-foot drop resistance) with premium features such as a bar-code reader, a daylight-readable display, a high-resolution camera, a 14-hour hot-swappable battery, and a sealed, all-weather design (IP65).
Using the Toughbook FZ-X1, parking enforcement officers can now do their jobs faster and more effectively come rain, shine—or snow.
A few years ago, the company hit a snag while it was developing its software for Android’s 4.2.2 operating system. “We’re continually pushing the technology envelope and we were doing so with Android,” says Mike Bourre, Gtechna’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We had created powerful software that lets officers quickly scan or enter a vehicle’s license plate number to determine if a driver is in violation—but we couldn’t find a rugged handheld device for Android.”
There were plenty of consumer smartphones on the market that would support Android, but gtechna needed a water-resistant handheld that could endure extreme temperatures, long work shifts, and inevitable drops on concrete— and still perform to a T.
Gtechna was already very familiar with Panasonic’s Toughbook 54, a rugged laptop computer that it packages with its software and sells to police forces. So when Bourre heard that Panasonic was releasing the five-inch Toughbook FZ-X1 for Android, he and his team crossed their fingers and tested it out.
Integrating the Toughbook FZ-X1’s many features with Gtechna’s enforcement software couldn’t have gone more smoothly for the team. “We simply put the software on the device and it worked out of the gate,” says Bourre. “It was that simple. We didn’t have to make any code changes or modify our standard software—unlike in the past with other devices.”
But if there’s one feature that sets the Toughbook FZX1 apart for Gtechna, it’s the device’s ability to support License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology, which lets officers capture information from a vehicle’s license plate (by scanning or entering the plate number) and use that information to search a database to determine if a driver has paid for parking. “We were the first software company in the parking market to load LPR software onto a rugged handheld,” says Bourre. “Combine that with the Toughbook FZ-X1’s high-res camera and it’s a big differentiator for us in the marketplace.” As a result, officers can do their jobs faster and with greater accuracy.