It’s no secret that field service technicians working in the Oil & Gas, Mining, and Utility sectors rely on mobile geographic information systems (GIS) support to navigate the urban, remote and rugged environments in which they operate. Asset location, maintenance, and management is always more efficient when you know exactly where to go, and when. Access to GIS data is easier on a bigger screen, hence the trend towards using rugged tablets in the field versus smaller smartphones or heavier notebooks and laptops.
But geospatial applications aren’t exclusively beneficial to traditional field service sectors. Thanks to the proliferation of more advanced mobile computing technologies and the collective efforts of organizations such as Esri and industry leaders, GIS information is influencing the operational efficiency of professionals in almost every global industry.
As Bob Ashenbrenner explained last month in Geoinformatics Magazine:
“GIS systems are also vital enablers of computer-aided dispatch in Public Safety, Transportation routing and Logistics optimization, and Hazardous Material location. Fire and Rescue crews increasingly rely on GIS data when evaluating potential loss analysis on the ground, and even cemeteries are finding GIS applications critical to planning and maintenance operations. Not to mention, federal, state, and municipal government agencies rely on GIS tools for tax appraisals, logging road conditions, sidewalk inspections, and roadside sign inventories, among other tasks.”
This more comprehensive Industries list from Esri is impressive – and indicative of today’s reality: You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry not dependent on mobile PC-based mapping solutions in some capacity. Though simply having a mobile device and a GIS database are not enough for successful application of this powerful information.
First you need to know how to find all the right GIS-ready features in a single mobile PC package. For many industries, that will be a rugged tablet-based solution since GIS “compatibility and adaptability aren’t as easy to come by with consumer-grade devices”. Then you have to know how to sync the rugged tablet hardware and workflow software properly for GIS success.
But don’t worry, Bob gets you moving down the right track in this “right start” guide to GIS: