Top 6 Tablet Features for Law Enforcement

Tablets are finding a home in law enforcement organizations across the nation. Officers are turning to these mobile solutions in increasing numbers to increase productivity and efficiency due to their lightweight portability and ability to provide fast and easy access to data.

I recently spoke with Police Chief Magazine about how to select the right tablet for law enforcement. Here are the six most important features to keep in mind:

1. Durability: Tablet failure and breakage can significantly hinder officers’ productivity and workflow. In addition, the costs associated with repair and replacement can add up quickly. In law enforcement, it is crucial that tablets are able to withstand drops, shock, vibration due to in-vehicle use, spills, extreme temperatures and other common usage scenarios. Tablets designed for the consumer market perform well  for light use at home, but for  mobile applications in the field their annual failure rate was measured at 19 percent, substantially higher than the 4.5 percent average failure rate of rugged enterprise tablets according to a new report from VDC Research. Consumer tablets’ lack of durability is one of the main reasons they are a poor investment for the demanding world of law enforcement. pan-ToughpadFZE1-police

2. Battery Life: It is common for officers to endure long shifts requiring continual use of their device. According to VDC’s research, 65 percent of workers who use tablets on the job today indicate that their batteries ”frequently” or ”occasionally” do not last the full shift.  Time spent charging devices during a shift results in decreased productivity creating a need for devices with extended battery life and replaceable batteries.  Look for professional-grade tablets with batteries that are easily removable and replaceable. Many models even offer hot-swap capabilities that allow the user to replace the battery without powering down the device.

3. Security: Because tablets are providing instantaneous access to personal information and law enforcement data and applications are highly sensitive, a sophisticated level of data security in both hardware and software is critical. Security must be tackled on hardware and software levels and goes hand-in-hand with other considerations such as mobile device management, operating systems, and application deployments. Consumer-grade tablets generally lack anything but the most basic levels of data security, and this falls far short of the protection needed for highly sensitive law enforcement applications.

4. Wireless Options: Integrated WiFi radio management and standalone GPS are essential for law enforcement devices requiring continual data access from any location. Additionally, integrated 4G LTE capabilities allow officers in remote locations to perform their duties without loss of connectivity or reliance on an external modem. When mounting tablets inside a vehicle, look for devices with dual high-gain antenna pass-through for improved connectivity.

5. Input/output Flexibility: I/O capabilities that address unique interface requirements represent a significant value-add. Barcode readers, magnetic stripe card readers and other integrated options are available for professional-grade tablets, which can enable an officer to perform their jobs more easily.

6. Ease of use and advanced support: Tablets that provide greater ease of use are vital to law enforcement professionals. Look for tablets with features like daylight-readable touchscreens designed to work with gloves or in the rain, which can significantly improve productivity for officers in the field. Equally important is a superior level of advanced support. Key support features should include advanced warranty support, mobile device and application management, 24/7 help desk services, and on-site maintenance and repair services when needed.

While there are an array of features that make professional tablets beneficial to the success of law enforcement, these six top the list. Advancements in mobile computing are contributing to effective law enforcement, and by integrating tablets with these key features officers are able to perform their duties more efficiently. Click here to learn more about Panasonic’s rugged tablets for public safety.