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The mission of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is to keep the city’s one million residents safe every day, a commitment that the 1400 uniformed officers and 600 civilian employees take very seriously. When OPS started using Toughbooks in 1999, Panasonic was proud to become its technology partner. Fast forward to 2020 and OPS is still deploying Toughbooks in the field—and Panasonic is prouder than ever to support Ottawa’s frontline officers with reliable solutions.

Challenges

In 2019, the Toughbook CF-19 was coming to the end of its service life at OPS. Since many frontline police vehicles were scheduled for replacement, it seemed like a good time to make the transition to a next-generation laptop with a redesigned mounting layout in the new vehicles.

Solutions

OPS hired a third-party consultant to manage a pilot project for selecting the new laptop. Internal stakeholders participating in the pilot included the Fleet section, Technical Services, Business Information Solutions (IT), Health & Wellness and a small group of frontline officers. The Ottawa Police Association and an external ergonomics consultant were also involved.

Results

Officers testing the CF-33 in the field returned very positive feedback. The 12” screen was an instant hit, helping to reduce eye strain and generally making it easier to accomplish tasks. Favourable comments also came back about the responsiveness of the touchscreen, convenience of the internal modem and barcode reader, and rock-solid dependability of the printer interface.

Challenges

In 2019, the Toughbook CF-19 was coming to the end of its service life at OPS. Since many frontline police vehicles were scheduled for replacement, it seemed like a good time to make the transition to a next-generation laptop with a redesigned mounting layout in the new vehicles.

A typical police vehicle is loaded with specialized equipment so space is always at a premium. The new laptop would need to have a small footprint and sufficient connectivity for existing peripheral devices—a printer, card reader and GPS/modem—as well as any new devices that might be added to the set-up at a later date. Since officers spend so much time in their vehicles, reliability, ease-of-use and ergonomics are also of utmost importance.

In keeping with its primary mission, OPS was prepared to judge any would-be replacement for the CF-19 by how well it kept frontline officers focused on community safety. The expectation at OPS was that police officers should never have to struggle with the technology in their cars. Any solution that failed this simple litmus test would not be accepted.
 

Solutions

OPS hired a third-party consultant to manage a pilot project for selecting the new laptop. Internal stakeholders participating in the pilot included the Fleet section, Technical Services, Business Information Solutions (IT), Health & Wellness and a small group of frontline officers. The Ottawa Police Association and an external ergonomics consultant were also involved.

Favouring a like-for-like replacement approach, the working group initially considered three different Toughbook models:
•    10” FZ-G1 tablet
•    10” CF-20 detachable laptop/tablet
•    12” CF-33 detachable laptop/tablet

However, given that the new frontline vehicle would be an SUV with a more spacious interior, the group quickly narrowed its focus to the Toughbook CF-33. For the pilot, this laptop was installed in six police vehicles and put through its paces by the participating officers.

Featuring a larger, brighter screen than the old CF-19, the CF-33 is capable of delivering a better experience to its users. Although the CF-33 is a bigger laptop, it’s also lighter, which places less load on the dashboard mount, minimizing vibration.

The CF-33’s built-in card reader and GPS/modem allowed OPS to dispense with existing external units, shrinking the overall IT footprint, saving money on hardware and maintenance, and reducing the amount of cabling in the vehicle. This turned out to be fortuitous because OPS unexpectedly decided to install a set of carbine mounts between the seats, lessening the amount of space available for IT equipment.

Powered by Windows, the CF-33 easily runs all essential policing software applications such as Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), Mobile Data Terminal (MDT), Mobile Report Entry (MRE) and eTicketing. In addition, the laptop meets OPS security standards, providing a secure connection to the Report Management System (RMS), OPS email exchange and intranet, with two-factor authentication for certain databases and systems. Internet access is limited by OPS to sites deemed necessary for frontline operations.

Especially important during Ottawa’s harsh winters, the Toughbook’s fully rugged, impact-resistant chassis has an IP65 rating for its all-weather design, allowing officers to operate the CF-33 wherever they need it, both inside and outside the vehicle.
 

Results

Officers testing the CF-33 in the field returned very positive feedback. The 12” screen was an instant hit, helping to reduce eye strain and generally making it easier to accomplish tasks. Favourable comments also came back about the responsiveness of the touchscreen, convenience of the internal modem and barcode reader, and rock-solid dependability of the printer interface.

Having access to a fully functional, fully connected laptop with impressive speed and computing power was a real selling point. “I can do everything in this vehicle that I can do in the station,” explained Constable Sean Convey, Operation Technology Solution Lead. “I can check email. I can write reports. I can see what other officers are doing.”

The pilot officers noted that the CF-33 made them more efficient because they could complete tasks faster than before, sometimes in totally new ways. “The Panasonic CF-33 cuts down the time it takes to generate a Provincial Offence Notice,” said Convey. “Previously, drafting a handwritten ticket could take between 15 and 20 minutes, where now you can generate the same ticket electronically in a matter of seconds.” Since officers can instantly access records on their Toughbooks, they are able to process people on scene and remain in the field to take the next call, substantially reducing travel time.

In his role as a community police officer, Constable Convey has found the Toughbook to be a real asset for engaging the citizens of Ottawa. “There's just something about policing in an area where there's so many families. The Panasonic CF-33 allows me to be a better officer and reach out to the community that we support.”

While frontline officers value Toughbooks for their power and versatility, IT professionals at OPS appreciate their durability and long service life. “We're looking for a good rate of return on our investment,” said Don Louis-Seize, Business Information Solutions Supervisor. “We found, working with our Panasonic partners, we were able to do that because we're able to maintain our devices and our vehicles for five or plus years.”

After the Toughbook CF-33 pilot project successfully concluded, OPS decided to install the new laptop in 220 frontline vehicles by 2020. When asked about the customer service they receive from Panasonic, OPS employees described it as “amazing”.
 

I can do everything in this vehicle that I can do in the station.
Constable Sean Convey, Operation Technology Solution Lead