Dataforensics Maximizes Field Work Uptime with Fully-Rugged Tablet Solution

In 1999, assessing the damage from an earthquake was tedious, required multiple teams, manual documentation and months of data processing.

Scott Deaton, a then Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech, spent his time researching ways to improve the process of assessing earthquake damage. “It was a human-driven, paper-based process where people were manually documenting the damage, but digitally recording position with handheld GPS and taking photographs with digital cameras,” he said.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NSF sponsored Scott and his advisor, David Frost, to modify its system and deploy and manage a team to assess the damage to buildings surrounding the World Trade Center site.

The work they did on the project made them realize that there was a future in helping professionals accomplish field and office work in less time. It became a viable idea for Scott and David when they shared their results. “As we presented our findings to our geotechnical and geoenvironmental colleagues, we realized the need for this type of business, and thus Dataforensics was founded,” he said.

Dataforensics has since become a leader in developing and deploying geotechnical and geoenvironmental software applications. The software helps geologists, geotechnical and environmental engineers, and engineering technicians accomplish field and office work quickly with more accuracy and with higher quality data.

The Dataforensics team spent more than a decade creating software that is flexible, customizable and helps improve the data collection process. Software perfection was only the first step. They also hoped to minimize the number of devices used in data collection and find a practical mobile device that would last the entire work day. “In the past, there was not a single device that allowed you to record field data, take pictures and locate it (via GPS) while having enough battery life to get through a full day’s work,” Scott said.

After working in the field for years, they knew exactly what they were looking for. The software needed to partner with an all-in-one device that could provide long battery life, a high resolution camera, accurate GPS and a fully-rugged form factor.

It all came together when Scott received a mailer from the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) highlighting preferred partnership and pricing with DataSource Mobility. Scott reached out to DataSource Mobility to discuss products and pricing and was impressed by DataSource Mobility’s commitment to helping his team’s aim.

DataSource Mobility recommended to Scott and his team the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1 and set them up with a demo as part of their “Touch & Try” program, so that Dataforensics could execute a pilot program and test their software solution on the device. The fully-rugged tablet featured embedded wireless connectivity, hi-res image capture and an 11-12 hour extended battery life – fitting all of Dataforensics’ specifications – and as such a partnership soon followed.

The Toughpad FZ-A1 and Dataforensics software has greatly improved operations for customers. “In the past, customers had to install three or four software packages to get the data off the PDA and into software on their PCs. The new hardware and software capabilities reduces IT resources necessary to deploy the system. Customers can easily pull down the data and drop it into their PC-based applications,” explained Scott.

“We’ve been waiting for this device for 13 years. We are now able to offer our customers a complete solution to capture data from the field in real-time. The Toughpad FZ-A1 has allowed us to do more than we could ever do before,” said Scott.

“Thanks to our partnership with DataSource Mobility we are now able to provide our customers with a turn-key solution that doesn’t require an installation process. It’s easier to input the data, which has decreased field time and increased cost savings,” he concluded. “This is a win-win for everyone.”

To view the full case study online, please visit: