How to Guarantee Your Agency Will Have In-Vehicle Connectivity and Ensure Success for Mission Critical Applications

A multi-network concept refers to any setup that provides the vehicle with more than one network connection, meaning, there can be a mix of technologies onboard ranging from cellular and Wi-Fi to LMR, satellite, or new formats as they come online, such as the FirstNet network for public safety.

Technology in the squad car is advancing every day which means staying on top of the best IT advances can be a huge challenge for any department.  Video surveillance, license plate recognition (ALPR), electronic ticketing systems and the latest vehicle dispatching and tracking technologies enable officers to safely cover more area, and coordinate with other officers and agencies. Today’s police officers, paramedics, firefighters, utility workers, transit operators, and other public safety workers rely on advanced mobile applications, such as automatic vehicle location, traffic signal prioritization, computer aided dispatch, route and schedule management, and fare payment systems that increase productivity and improve safety.

The main point of access for these applications is often from the vehicle, because it’s equipped with onboard wireless connectivity and transmits and receives data on a nearly continual basis. In-vehicle connectivity has become customary, with first responders and field service personnel driving cars, vans, and trucks equipped with a network connection that provides convenient access to voice, text, and video data.  However, if the vehicle has only one onboard connection, the setup involves a certain amount of risk. Any issues with network coverage, bandwidth, or usage can mean delayed communications or, worse yet, no communications at all. Losing the onboard connection can have extreme consequences, and can even mean the difference between life and death. How do you reduce this risk?  By adding at least one more onboard network connection you can greatly reduce this risk. An alternative connection – to a secondary cellular network or some other format, such as Wi-Fi or satellite – creates a layer of insurance. When the primary connection isn’t up to the task, the alternate connection can be brought online to keep communications intact. Having two or more available connections onboard the vehicle, or “multi-networking”, protects against worst-case scenarios, and increases resilience for emergency response and other in-field services.

So, what is involved in a multi-network concept? A multi-network concept refers to any setup that provides the vehicle with more than one network connection, meaning, there can be a mix of technologies onboard ranging from cellular and Wi-Fi to LMR, satellite, or new formats as they come online, such as the FirstNet network for public safety. A multi-network router installed in the vehicle is used to manage the switches from network to network. So, when are these typical network changeovers? Changeovers usually happen at three points of operation: When leaving the depot and transitioning from Wi-Fi to cellular, when returning to the depot and transitioning back from cellular to Wi-Fi, and while the vehicle is in motion, with the router switching from one network to another to optimize in-field connectivity.

With the right multi-network solution in place, changeovers from one network to another can happen automatically without any kind of manual intervention, and the necessary security protocols are maintained without interrupting the flow of work, even when there’s a VPN (Virtual Private Network) involved. Furthermore, the selection criteria for each network connection can be customized, based on things such as vehicle location, vehicle speed, or the type of data being transmitted. The overall result is more efficient network usage, more effective field services and lower operating costs. Law enforcement and other organizations are now using more video, and at a higher resolution. The video is typically stored in the vehicle and then transmitted to the backend system at periodic intervals. The mobile router can be configured to use a dedicated link to send video, so the data-intensive video transmissions don’t disrupt or slow down the other services in use. Alternatively, the router can be configured to send video transmissions when the vehicle returns to its home base, using the depot’s faster, more secure Wi-Fi connection to transfer video. Now, how to choose the right mobile router for your workforce to ensure connectivity in the field.

The operating costs and in-field effectiveness of a multi-network platform are heavily influenced by the ability of the router to manage seamless network changeovers and protect data. The router’s switching speed, security features, and programmability all affect how well the solution performs, and how much it costs to manage. It’s important to consider all these factors when evaluating the various options available for mobile multi-networking.

Transitioning to a multi-network environment is a serious undertaking. To maximize your return on investment and fully realize the benefit to your organization we recommend three things to look for in a multi-network mobile router:

  1. Switching speeds that are fast enough to support seamless connectivity.
  2. The ability to provide continuous security without impacting performance.
  3. A policy engine that can be configured for intelligent switching and customized operation.

Choosing a mobile router that meets all three criteria lets you create a multi-networking environment that not only enhances efficiency but also adds value. Group Mobile works closely with Sierra Wireless to offer the world a comprehensive offering of hardware, software, and services for connected devices and machine-to-machine communications. Together, Group Mobile and Sierra Wireless provide innovative, reliable and high performing solutions.

Group Mobile’s team of industry experts can assist you in selecting, designing and implementing a multi-network environment for mission-critical fleets, request a free personalized quote.

Panasonic Toughbook 33, a Lightweight Detachable Notebook — Designed for Tough Work in the Field!

The Toughbook 33 laptop provides six flexible usage modes and offers two keyboards to choose from to accommodate the unique needs of different mobile professionals.

The Panasonic Toughbook 33, the fully-rugged 2-in-1 detachable laptop featuring a brilliant display, ideal for workers in the field. Inspired by workers in tough environments, the Toughbook 33 2-in-1 detachable laptop delivers rugged mobility with an abundance of customizable options for police, fire, ambulance, field service, and enterprise.  The Toughbook 33 is a lightweight detachable notebook with an extensive variety of integrated options, as well as a choice of two keyboards. The Panasonic Toughbook 33 can be tailored to meet the unique requirements of a diverse customer base. The CF-33 includes a USB 3.0, microSD, HDMI, Ethernet, audio and nano-SIM ports, the tablet also has an optional serial socket, allowing operators to connect older devices like stop lights to run diagnostics or configuration programs.

The fully-rugged Toughbook 33 features a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 vPro processor, 256GB solid state drive, 8GB RAM and a choice of Windows 10 Pro or Windows® 10 Pro with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit downgrade. The Toughbook 33 is purpose-built to meet MIL-STD-461F for electromagnetic interference and MIL-STD-810G for drop, shock, vibration, explosive atmosphere, temperature, humidity, and rain and sand. The Toughbook 33 has an IP-sealing rating of IP65 to protect against dust and liquids.

The Toughbook 33 2-in-1 laptop is built for maximum mobility with two twin hot-swappable batteries that provide 10 hours of life. In addition, the optional Long-Life Battery configuration doubles battery life to 20 hours for the most demanding mobile professionals. The Toughbook 33 laptop provides six flexible usage modes and offers two keyboards to choose from to accommodate the unique needs of different mobile professionals.

As for vehicle installations, the Toughbook 33 two-in-one device is available with two different vehicle docks for new deployments. The first is a tablet vehicle dock. The second is a 2-in-1 vehicle dock which utilizes the Premium Keyboard and can be mounted either in laptop (clamshell) or convertible mode.

Contact one of Group Mobile’s trusted technology advisors to get a personalized quote today.

 

Popular Accessories for Rugged Tablets, Laptops and Handheld Computers!

Choose additional tools that will make it possible for you to handle your daily job tasks as easily on the road or in the field as you do in the safety and comfort of a traditional office.

With so many rugged accessories to choose from today, how do you evaluate the must-have accessories you need for optimum productivity? So, you’ve selected the rugged device that will work best for you: a tablet, handheld or laptop that’s tough enough to handle everything you do across the course of your daily job responsibilities. Or, maybe your IT department has chosen the rugged computer for you and your department and you’re not exactly sure how to make it work as a valuable tool for you. The next step is selecting the mobile accessories to accompany your rugged computing device: the additional tools that will make it possible for you to handle your daily job tasks as easily on the road or in the field as you do in the safety and comfort of a traditional office.

So, first evaluate your job requirements and begin to ask yourself the following questions: Do I need to use my rugged tablet or laptop in a company or personal vehicle? Do I need the ability to print or scan documents while on the road or in the field? Will I be charging my rugged computer in my vehicle?  Do I need the ability to dock my tablet or laptop inside my office for use at my desk? Do I need connectivity over commercial, municipal or public safety wireless networks using either a built-in or plug-in data card or mobile router? Do I need a shoulder strap to easily carry my tablet or laptop in the field? Will I be using my rugged laptop or tablet on a forklift therefore requiring a forklift computer mount? Will I be operating my rugged device for long hours which will require a spare battery for my device? Do I need a bar code scanner to read labels from just a few inches to 40-feet away? Do I need a rugged keyboard to easily attach and remove from the unit and often fold for easy transport? These are only a few of the vital questions to consider when evaluating your work environment and what must-have rugged computing accessories you need for optimum productivity.

There are plenty of accessories to choose from, but these five must-have rugged computing accessories will help make your daily tasks easier and ensure your rugged device keeps up with all of your needs to increase productivity and efficiency at work, now who doesn’t want that?

  1. Rugged Printers and Scanners

How many times have you been out on a job site, only to discover that you needed to share information with someone in paper form? From printing out critical instructions for a patient in need of detailed care to printing an invoice or receipt on the go, you can’t always rely on digital formats. Public safety and field service workers heavily rely on the availability of rugged mobile vehicle printers. Mobile rugged printers are easy to operate and maintain in the field, offering full-page printing with high resolution text, graphics and images. Another added benefit to mobile rugged printers is how easily adaptable they are to almost any vehicle in your fleet. Rugged printers are just as tough as your rugged tablet or laptop and can be easily attached to your device for precise, professional and simple mobile printing.

Many people working in realty, home healthcare, insurance appraisal, police, legal, and construction to name a few will highly benefit from a rugged vehicle scanner. Do you really need a rugged scanner? It depends on what your job entails! If you regularly handle a great deal of paperwork while you’re on the road or find yourself needing to get clients’ signatures in the system quickly, a rugged scanner can help provide the speed you and your clients need to keep your day running smoothly.

  1. Rugged Keyboards

Rugged keyboards are ergonomic and can be an invaluable tool for workers in the field. Many rugged keyboards are completely sealed form the elements and designed with LED backlit keys for use in dark environments or inside vehicles at night. Rugged keyboards are used by police, medical professionals including travel nurses, oil and gas, mining and energy, EMS and fire and fleet management. Rugged keyboards designed specifically for your business will provide real return on investment and exceptional value.

  1. Vehicle Mounts

Some people are perfectly content to store their rugged devices in a bag or case, pulling it out whenever they need it. In other cases, however, you may find yourself wanting to install your rugged device within your vehicle. Vehicle mounts are the perfect mobile solution: they hold your device where you need it, making sure that it’s always at hand. Vehicle mounting solutions offer a flexible form factor that delivers strength and durability to protect your technology investment. Worried about drilling in your vehicle? Consider the No-Drill vehicle mounting solution — installation is simple with the use of your existing passenger side seat leg bolts. Several adjustment points throughout the mount enable you to position your laptop in the most ergonomic and comfortable position possible.

  1. Power Accessories

You don’t always have the luxury of heading back to the office to plug in your device as the battery starts to run low. When that flashing power indicator shows up, you want to have options! Some rugged devices offer hot swappable batteries allowing you to swap out the battery while your device is still running. In other cases, a vehicle charger will be enough. Wherever your day takes you, make sure you have plenty of battery power to keep pushing through your work day.

  1. Gateways and Modems

Do you need internet connectivity no matter where you are? If being able to bring in data is a critical part of your daily job, you need to be sure that you’ll get wireless access no matter where your day takes you. Gateways and modems will provide the wireless signal your device needs to ensure that you have access no matter how far from the office, or how far off the beaten path you might be on a given day. Carry the internet with you wherever you go and enjoy the assurance that data is just the press of a button away. Many companies rely on mobile workers that need access to the same tools available at the office.  These tools need to be accessible anytime, anywhere – even for workers in vehicles, on the move and at remote work sites. Organizations can more efficiently manage operations by knowing the location and status of their mobile assets.

Once you’ve selected your rugged device, make sure that you have the accessories that will accompany it to make your work day run smoother and more productive. Our team of mobile solution experts can evaluate your business and streamline a solution to increase productivity and efficiency of your workers — a common goal we all have in mind.

Contact a Group Mobile sales professional to get started.

A Durable Tablet for the Warehouse Floor — The Xplore Bobcat Fully Rugged Tablet!

The Xplore Bobcat will bring real value to applications in markets such as field service, public safety, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, distribution, and wherever a tablet is a more suitable choice than a laptop.

Whether you need to protect your data, your workers or both, ultra-portable, fully rugged Xplore Bobcat tablet will prove its worth. This Xplore Bobcat rugged tablet will power all of your complex warehouse and manufacturing operations while on the move, including a forklift mount for ease of use when mobile.

The Xplore Bobcat fully rugged tablet is ideal for warehouse management including:

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Asset Tracking via RFID
  • Barcode Scanner-based Inventory Management
  • Inventory Quality Inspection and Damage Documentation
  • Warehouse Maintenance and Repairs
  • Work Order Management for Packing, Shipping and Receiving

The Xplore Bobcat features a Kensington Lock Slot, a broad range of I/O ports and optional NFC, Smart Card reader, Fingerprint Scanner and CAC/Smart Card Reader safeguards.  This tough Xplore tablet ensures only authorized personnel gain access to your most sensitive data. The Xplore Bobcat will bring real value to applications in markets such as field service, public safety, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, distribution, and wherever a tablet is a more suitable choice than a laptop.

The Xplore Bobcat is powered by the latest Intel Quad Core 1.9GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB solid state drive. The Bobcat offers a full suite of enterprise tools for any application. Integrated options for CAC, NFC, fingerprint scanner, and 1D/2D scanner, give the Bobcat the flexibility to meet exact user needs. A multi-modal communications suite, including 802.11ac WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS, and optional 4G LTE mobile broadband, enables real-time data transfer and uninterrupted communications for field workers.

Contact one of Group Mobile’s trusted technology advisors to get a personalized quote today.

Rugged laptops and rugged tablets are used in all branches of the military and for good reason. Rugged computers are able to withstand the intense heat and sand of the desert and can survive the bumps and jolts of an armored vehicle or naval vessel.

For every veteran and every active duty soldier and individual in military uniform — thank you. Thank you for the sacrifice you continue to make every day on our behalf. And for every family who’s lost a soldier due to service to their country — thank you. Thank you for your family member who’s made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. No words can ever express the debt we owe these brave men and women.

When your job takes you all over the world to unknown conditions, when every move you make is dependent on real-time intelligence and decision making capabilities, having a mobile device that is durable, dependable, and fast is an absolute necessity to power through every military operation. Group Mobile offers many different military grade computing options purposefully built to weather the burden of battlefield operating extremes — dust to water, bright sun to pitch black darkness, plus the rugged environment in military vehicles. 

Rugged laptops and rugged tablets are used in all branches of the military and for good reason. Rugged computers are able to withstand the intense heat and sand of the desert and can survive the bumps and jolts of an armored vehicle or naval vessel. Rugged computers have been tested according to military standards (MIL-STD 810F) and have daylight-viewable displays for in-field use. Some top features for military include:

  • Sunlight-viewable display
  • Protection against intense heat and sand
  • Protection against bumps and jolts
  • Military standards approved (MIL-STD 810F)

 

See some of Group Mobile’s top devices for military and homeland security.

New Getac ZX70 Fully Rugged Android Tablet — Everything You Need to Know!

The Getac ZX70 tablet is a rugged, reliant, innovative and useful device. It has several important features that companies and individuals should consider when shopping the market for a durable tablet computer.

The Getac ZX70 tablet is a rugged, reliant, innovative and useful device.  It has several important features that companies and individuals should consider when shopping the market for a durable tablet computer. The Getac ZX70 tablet is used in many different field operations and critical situations with different functionalities. Users interested in purchasing this device should consider the specs, uses and configurable capabilities of this Android based system.

The Getac ZX70 is primarily designed to exist in a rugged and unpredictable environment.  It has a powerful casing that protects it from falls, spills, splashes, heat, wind, water and high impact.  That is crucial for field service professionals that can rely on.  It has a 7 inch screen that is wide enough to clearly see from an outstretched hand.  The arc case is actually extremely easy to carry and use.  It is light enough for field staff will have no trouble carrying it in one hand, yet tough enough to survive falls up to 6 feet with no damage to the device.

The Getac ZX70 can endure different weather patterns including temperature of all ranges. It also can function with 95% humidity which means it will work even in a hurricane.  It is also ATEX and IECEx for durability and can be brought into places where there are flammable materials.

Even in the wind, rain or dark, the screen will also still be visible to read with the 580 NIT brightness.  That is much better than other devices and also still comfortable on the eyes.  The screen is a LumiBond 2.0 LCD panel that is interactive and touch screen, even sensitive enough for use with a glove.  It offers clear contrasts and colors that are easy to distinguish.  It also includes a hard-tip stylus which can be used for signatures, notes, drawing, mapping and planning.  Field workers need this tool to operate when they don’t have easy access to pen and paper.

The ZX70 tablet also has an extremely powerful battery (3.8V) with a long life span.  Operators can go out in the field for a full 12 hour shift without worrying about recharging the device (unless they have extremely heavy use or downloading requirements).  Of course, it also has a camera although this drains the battery a little faster while using video.  Still, the device charges up quite quickly once it is plugged into an outlet.

Of course, the tablet has various ways to connect to the internet including wifi, Bluetooth, GPS and optional 4G LTE broadband access. Users can download a massive amount of data and store it in the 32 GB of memory.  That allows local saving of location data, audio and video recordings, patient or criminal data and much more.  That can be processed and produced quickly with the Intel chip that runs at 1.44GHz with 2MB of Cache RAM.

Due to the ruggedness and versatility of this device, the ROI is quite high.  Because the ZX70 rugged tablet uses an open Android 6.0 system, new updates are constantly available as the device ages through the ubiquitous Google Play store.  New software that are required to operate are also easy to download. Many of these open source tools are free or low-cost.  The device’s durability ensures that it can last at least 4 or 5 years, which is much longer than the industry standard for tablets.

Group Mobile is the leading provider of hardware, software and solutions for public safety, security and construction organizations among others. A unique product mix of rugged hardware, focused solutions and professional IT services have helped many organizations find the tools to meet their objectives on time and under budget.

Contact one of Group Mobile’s mobile technology experts to learn more on secure mobile router implementation and management.

How Secure is Your Mobile Router? How to Ensure Your Organization is Protected!

Do you ever wonder how easy it is to hack a mobile router? Is your fleet or agency at risk? Workers in the field need easy access to mission-critical data, plus a way for supervisors to control and manage vehicle operations, therefore a mobile router is a necessity to create a unique Vehicle Area Network (VAN). The VAN creates a secure, encrypted mobile hotspot, in and around the vehicle, so front line personnel can use a mobile device like a rugged tablet, smartphone or rugged laptop to access secure databanks. Designing and implementing a secure, multi-network setup for public safety professionals to use can be challenging. For instance, police officers work across multiple networks as coverage dictates, and require the hand-offs between networks to be quick, secure, transparent, and seamless to the user.

Managing a VAN means dealing with frequent connects and disconnects, and IP addresses that change regularly. This type of dynamic operating environment makes it harder to partition and segment the network, and makes it harder to protect transmissions. Without the proper security mechanisms in place, the network risks being accessed by unauthorized users and is more vulnerable to various types of attacks. That includes Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which can shut down operations and act as a smokescreen for other malicious activities, such as viruses and ransomware.

Mobile routers and gateways are entry points to an enterprise intranet, so it’s vitally important to implement equipment secure enough to provide the right level of safety. Because there are no specific guidelines or regulations covering the security of in-vehicle networking equipment, the decision of how much or how little protection to offer is, by and large, up to the vendor. Some offer more security features than others, and some have a more comprehensive strategy than others for dealing with security in an in-vehicle environment. Make sure the vendor you choose has been around for a while, comes highly recommended, and has a lot of product in the field —this will make a big difference, especially when problems arise. These points play a heavy role in why public safety officials choose Sierra Wireless time and time again.

When choosing a secure mobile router selection, begin with these questions:

  • Does your vendor have a dedicated department that leads and coordinates security efforts?
  • Do they recognize best practices for security and implement them across all their products and systems?
  • Do they employ subject-matter experts who drive company-wide initiatives for security?
  • Is there a standardized process for identifying, evaluating, and fixing any security
    issues with their products? How do they decide which issues to address first?
  • How good are they at helping IT teams understand what needs to be done? Do they take a proactive approach on security matters, with regular updates, email alerts, and technical bulletins that keep customers aware of the latest security issues?

Your mobile network can involve hundreds of vehicle-mounted gateways, which can create a complex management project for you or your IT staff. With the right partnership, you will be able to deploy the best, most cost-effective network for your needs. Your partner should be capable of covering the entire experience from planning and design, through implementation and test, to full operation and complete project life cycle management, so you can leverage their expertise, as needed, at any point along the way. Contact one of Group Mobile’s mobile technology experts to learn more on secure mobile router implementation and management.