While laptop computing devices in police squad cars have helped officers do their jobs much more efficiently, the laptops themselves can often have drawbacks. Bulky laptops can present safety concerns, ergonomic problems, portability issues, damage potential and more. That’s why many departments are now opting for rugged tablets, such as the TM110 rugged tablet for public safety from Datalux. Tablets offer many advantages over laptops and are now considered the next generation in public safety on-the-job computing. This trend is also occurring in other highly mobile professions like health care.
Safety Advantages of Rugged Tablets in Police Cruisers
While public safety vehicles are getting smaller, the amount of gear and equipment they need to carry has increased. And, especially in those vehicles using laptops, the safety of the officers is now at risk. Bigger laptops often end up being mounted in a cruiser where they’re in the deployment zone of the passenger side air bag. When the airbag deploys in a crash, the equipment mounted in its way becomes a missile, injuring officers, sometimes severely.
The center console of most cruisers is safe from an air bag deployment, but it simply does not offer a lot of space for mounting equipment. Police departments can either make sure that any accessories are installed out of the way of the airbag by following instructions issued by manufacturers, or they can have a switch installed to turn off the passenger-side air bag. Neither solution is considered ideal. But, new rugged tablets built especially for public safety uses offer another optimal option because they can be mounted in the center console without encroaching into the passenger seat in cruisers. Thus, they don’t interfere with airbag deployment.
The way laptops need to be positioned in cruisers poses another big safety concern. When the laptop can be positioned to avoid the airbag, it is often necessary for it to be placed low and far to the right of the driver; the officer’s attention is no longer focused on the road or the suspect and/or a car during a traffic stop. When a split second can mean the difference between life and death, it’s extremely important for officers to keep their eyes on the road and on the people they’re interacting with. Smaller tablets can be mounted toward the top of the dash, in the center console, allowing officers to access and view data without needing to look away from the task at hand.
Ergonomic Advantages of Rugged Tablets in Police Vehicles
Many officers have complained about the ergonomic issues associated with laptops in their cars. For example, they often have to twist their torsos as much as 45 degrees in order to view and enter data. This has led to back problems and other physical complaints.
Because laptops consume considerable space, departments often have to relocate other essential equipment within the vehicle. Emergency controls have to be moved back from the dash, forcing officers to put their arm into an awkward position in order to access the buttons. Prisoner partitions exacerbate the situation.
Laptop screens are sometimes hard to view, due to glare and brightness on sunny days. Datalux’s TM110 tablet rugged comes with a large HD screen that is highly visible in bright vehicle interiors as well as outdoors. Viewability can be enhanced further with anti-glare films that also protect screen from smudging.
Mobility Advantages of Rugged Tablets
Mobility is another big advantage of the tablet. Mounted tablets can be quickly and single-handedly unmounted and carried with ease on foot, on a bike, on a motorcycle, and even on a horse. The rugged, yet compact and lightweight TM110 tablet is only 2.7 lbs, giving officers the ability to take it far beyond the patrol car.
Tablets are readily customized with integrated barcode, RFID, smartcard or other types of data collection readers. This enhanced mobile computing helps officers survey and document an incident or accident, record witness statements, retrieve information, fill out forms, scan IDs and quickly perform other tasks that used to require more manual data entry.
Unlike a laptop, tablets can be used without a work surface – they can be used standing or sitting. This enables law enforcement personnel to enter data while walking around the scene of an incident. Moreover, the officer can more easily share information with citizens, or if required, with the court. All of this portability also allows law enforcement personnel to foster goodwill by spending more time interacting with citizens.
Founded in 1990, Datalux designs, manufactures, and markets specialized computer products for demanding environments with limited space, including public safety and health care. The company is headquartered in Winchester, Virginia. For more information about the Datalux line of public safety solutions, visit http://www.datalux.com/public-safety.