Over a year ago, Wyoming Highway Patrol was using another fully rugged solution to carry out their field reporting duties. Troopers used the devices for everything from e-citations to accident and evidence reporting. Even though the computers deployed were fully rugged, they couldn't withstand the daily wear and tear of the job, from bumpy roads to extreme weather conditions, causing the agency to experience close to a forty percent failure rate. Computer failure in the field was having an enormous impact on the agency from unforeseen expenses due to device replacement, more valuable and costly IT support, and reducing trooper productivity.
When the time came to overhaul their existing system, Wyoming Highway Patrol's IT department had a few requirements in mind when selecting a mobile device for their agency: it had to have the true rugged durability needed to withstand the everyday environments the troopers encounter in the field, and the longevity needed to ensure the mobile devices they invested in would be reliable and well suited for use by troopers for many years in the future. The vendor also needed to be able to provide quality professional services. After evaluating and testing multiple computers from various vendors, the team ultimately decided to deploy the rugged Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets.
Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers needed a durable, compact mobile device with low failure rates after experiencing multiple failures with a competitor's solutions.
Wyoming Highway Patrol deployed two hundred and fifteen (215) Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets in eighteen (18) territories throughout the state to assist troopers with field reporting, e-citation, mobile CAD, accident reporting and evidence entry while on the job.
After the highly successful, year-long deployment of the Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets, Wyoming Highway Patrol has experienced lower failure rates, along with the desired — and proven — rugged durability that they were looking for when choosing to deploy the Toughpad FZ-G1.
"Certainly when you go to look for a new product, you bring up all the issues you've had with the old product so you can make sure they don't happen again," said Wyoming Highway Patrol Captain Josh Walther. "With a 30 or 40 percent failure rate, service and support was huge to us. We just wanted to be assured that if there were to be a problem with the product, there would be performance guarantees and robust services available, and with Panasonic we get those services."
"After looking at many different vendors and models, we chose the Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets over laptops because we needed a solution that would work now, as well as 4-5 years down the road," said Captain Walther. "When thinking about ‘futureproofing,' the Toughpad tablet was the best mobile solution for us."
During the eighteen-city tour to deploy the two hundred and fifteen Toughpad FZ-G1 units across the state, troopers turned to the Panasonic Solutions Support team to help with the process.
To address one particular challenge, which surrounded the support of Microsoft Imaging, Panasonic sent three members of its ProServices team to rural Evanston Wyoming, who subsequently spent the next day and a half helping the Wyoming team better understand and resolve the issues they were facing.
"I can't speak highly enough about the services that Panasonic provided, both on the hardware and the software side of things," said Application Support Manager, AJ Myers, who has more than 16 years' experience in the IT industry.
After experiencing exceptionally high failure rates with a competitor's solution, Wyoming Highway Patrol knew they needed to question the testing and durability of what constitutes a truly rugged device, ultimately leading them to choose the Toughpad. After a year in the field, a Toughpad was put to the test when a trooper experienced a horrific crash. Thankfully the trooper survived the accident and is on the road to recovery. While his car did not survive the accident, his Toughpad did.
"We recently had a trooper responding to a shots fired call," said Captain Walther. "After trying to pass a vehicle while going at a high speed, he rolled his own vehicle more than four times. As a result, the tablet was ejected through the windshield, tumbled through the ditch and was later found in a debris field. As soon as the Toughpad was turned on it worked right away and shows just how tough these devices truly are."
With a purpose-built device designed to withstand these types of situations, Wyoming Highway Patrol is able to lower their total cost of ownership and save valuable time and money over the life of the product.
"From an IT perspective, it's nice to have a product that withstands the situations our troopers encounter on any given day because when something happens, I do not need to rebuild and replace. It's in the trooper's hands and it stays there until something crazy happens," said AJ Meyers. "A trooper can drop it on concrete, which will happen, or he can set it on the roof of his car and it will fall off and it's okay."
Apart from extreme durability, the Toughpad FZ-G1 also boasts a lightweight design for easy portability on the job from in-vehicle use to being carried outside the vehicle.
"The troopers often compliment the size of the Toughpad," said AJ Meyers. "At first, they questioned whether or not it would withstand the extreme conditions they encounter, but now they appreciate its lightweight convenience."
When asked what advice he would give to an agency evaluating the deployment of a rugged device, Captain Walther replied, "People would be crazy to buy a non-ruggedized product for this job." He also noted that "the term military spec is thrown around a lot in the industry and it is important for agencies to understand what that means, how that testing really works, and ask how the product you're considering has been tested."