Indianapolis Fire Department Relies on Rugged Toughpad Tablets and Toughbook Laptops

As the twelfth largest city in the U.S., the Indianapolis Fire Department service district covers 278 square miles of downtown Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. The department supports more than 1,200 workers in various roles, making it critical to find efficient ways to keep its large workforce productive and connected.

Captain Dale Rolfson, I.T. Manager for Indianapolis FD, has been with the department for 28 years. Before transitioning to computers the department operated the entire system with pen and paper, which ended up costing valuable time and resources. The department knew they needed a mobility solution to improve work processes, reduce costs and maximize efficiency.

“We tried another brand initially because the city was already using the brand’s consumer-grade laptops,” said Captain Rolfson. “We thought we would try their rugged computers but that didn’t last very long.”

The first major issue was the devices were not truly rugged – the devices could not hold up to the demands of the job. The other big problem the department encountered was the weight of the device. Inspectors needed to carry around their laptop all day, and the extra weight was causing health issues for some employees.

Captain Rolfson knew his workforce had different needs, and evaluated both Toughbook laptops and Toughpad tablets.

Indianapolis Fire Department is now using Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets as well as Toughbook 31 and Toughbook 53 laptops. Roughly 160 department vehicles have a Toughbook or Toughpad device inside.

Originally the Toughbook laptops and Toughpad tablets were used solely for mobile data computing. Now the devices are used in the field, in the office and mounted in emergency vehicles.

Earlier this year, the department transitioned the entire fire prevention department to Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets. Workers use a software program called “Mobile Eyes” to conduct building inspections. Mobile Eyes allows them to go out in the field, conduct an inspection, cite violations and provide an email copy of the report to the business owners/business occupants in real time.

“Fire prevention absolutely loves their Toughpad tablets. It’s been a great tool and really increases productivity on the job. Now instead of going out in the field, doing the inspections, then coming back to the office and uploading the information, they can just access the database live and take care of inspections.”

Fire departments respond to calls day and night in all types of environments, and need technology that can function when it matters most.

When asked about the advice he would give to a department evaluating a mobility deployment, Captain Rolfson said, “Do your research. Make sure that you understand the environment that you are using the product. I considered consumer-grade devices. It’s a cheaper solution up front but it’s not going to work the way you need it to work over the long term.  I spent two years researching products before making the decision to invest in Panasonic and couldn’t be happier with my choice.”

To learn more, read the full case study here.