Last week I began to make the case for why rugged tablets and GIS software are the one-two punch you need to extract any real meaning from GIS data and gain any real ROI for your GIS investments long-term. So let me further explain my rationale for knocking all other mobile PC options out of the ring (and introduce you to the new Geoinformation Model that Esri considers a win-win approach):
GIS data can be complex and hard to decipher without a visual component readily available …
- Without enough processing power, speed, storage capacity, or memory cache, the proper visualization of that GIS data is nearly impossible – making it nearly impossible to apply it with maximum return.
- Without data capture tools that can interface with legacy equipment in the field, collect data instantly from anywhere, or function despite the extreme weather conditions, accurate GIS data collection isn’t feasible.
- Without an outdoor-viewable screen, it’s hard to see the fantastic visual imaging GIS delivers.
- Without long battery life, it will be hard to power through long shifts without taking long breaks to recharge.
- Without a computer that offers true mobility, peripheral compatibility, or military-grade internal and external protection, it will be impossible to leverage a single PC platform for complete continuity of GIS access between the field, the vehicle, and the office.
Rugged tablets are the only computer technologies available today proven to be truly mobile, genuinely rugged, and time tested to withstand the computing-intensive demands of GIS workflows for years without fail. Perhaps that’s why an Xplore customer recently mentioned at an Esri Canada Utility Leadership Forum that “mobile hardware finally allows us to take advantages of all of the new capabilities that ESRI is providing.” But not all mobile hardware is built with GIS considerations in mind.
Only rugged tablets offer the open architecture necessary for software and system interoperability in what Esri is calling the Geoinformation Model. Only rugged tablets can mobilize this new GIS-centric architecture in a way that allow workers to “apply geography to every decision” – regardless of industry or role. Only rugged tablets have the right future-proof feature set to provide access to applications and information across all platforms based on the client’s identity on the network. In other words, those who aren’t using rugged tablets today are probably hard-pressed to reach the right workers with the right data – in real time.
So when you’re evaluating whether or not you really need a rugged tablet to “use, create, and share geographic information throughout your organization, the community, and openly on the web”…remember this:
Rugged tablets remove the uncertainties that come with running GIS solutions on consumer grade computers (or the wrong rugged computer form factor, such as a handheld that’s not well-suited for GIS):
- Can my mobile computer support the computing-intensive data sets that are standard with GIS models?
- Will I have to replace my device every year or two in order to keep up with processing demand or graphics display requirements? Do I have an Intel Core-series processor in my current computer (a requirement for any level of GIS utilization)?
- Do I have the tools to completely capture data for this workflow while in the field? Or do so with complete accuracy?
- Will I miss critical data patterns because I have incomplete data or ineffectual analysis capabilities?
- How many screens click-trough’s will it take to complete a single action? Or see the same level of data that’s viewable on a single rugged tablet screen?
- Is it possible to create 2D and 3D scenes or layer/ overlay data quickly for multiple scenario reviews?
- How frequently will I have to replace my device in order to keep pace with GIS innovation?
And remember, military-grade mobile tablet PCs have significantly expanded the opportunities that exist for GIS data application across almost every global industry:
The design of structural models – for business systems, operational assets, or physical infrastructure – using confirmed data
- The engineering of well-defined, purpose-built solutions for the manufacturing, utility, telecom, mining, oil & gas, military, government, and transportation sectors
- Faster and more effective incident response due to greater situational awareness, necessary for public safety and utility organizations
- The ability to track, trace, and take action – whether it’s the routine inspection and maintenance or unexpected diagnostic and repair of assets