Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Case Study: Underground Storage Tank Inspections Using Mobile Handheld PDAs

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is a national government agency responsible for creating and enforcing regulations that help keep the environment clean and protected. One of the responsibilities of the EPA is the inspection and auditing of underground storage tanks.

There are large numbers of underground storage tanks in nearly every community across the USA which represents a huge data collection and administration task. Regional entities throughout the country are responsible for providing underground storage tank inspections; one such entity is the Shoshone Bannock Tribe. The inspection data, traditionally collected in the field using a paper inspection form, was typed into an EPA database upon returning to the home office. The Shoshone Bannock Tribe needed a way to ensure the integrity of the data collected, speed up collection time, eliminate data entry time, and provide near real-time synchronization of the data collected.

MobileDataforce developed a mobile inspection application for use on Tablet PCs that integrates all required EPA data collection elements for underground storage tanks. The solution includes the PointSync Mobility Platform from MobileDataforce to synchronize the data from the mobile device into the central database in the office. The Tablet PC selected by the Shoshone Bannock Tribe was the Itronix GoBook Duo Touch using Microsoft’s Tablet XP operating system. At the end of an inspection, the device was placed in a USB connected wired cradle which connected to a database on a server. The data was then uploaded and submitted to the EPA.

By using a mobile application rather than paper forms, organizations can:

· Save administrative data entry time
· Wirelessly synchronize from the field
· Save fuel costs and driving time delivering paper forms
· Save shipping and storage costs for paper forms
· Provide near real-time visibility to inspections in the field
· Ensure data accuracy through the use of data validation features

MobileDataforce used an enterprise class mobile software platform called the PointSync Mobility Platform to create the mobile EPA Tank Inspection application. The application was built to their exact specifications and complies with EPA regulations for underground storage tank inspections.

PointSync Mobility Platform is an enterprise class mobile software platform used to rapidly design, develop, and deploy critical business mobile applications. It is architected to provide database centric mobile applications with bi-directional synchronization, connectivity, security, and enterprise database integration all within one product suite.

The Shoshone Bannock Tribe was able to save time and money through the use of a custom mobile application created by MobileDataforce using the PointSync Mobility Platform. By developing a mobile application, Shoshone Bannock was able to streamline inspections, while at the same time saving paper, data entry time, and money. The EPA was able to quickly and efficiently receive data on the condition of underground storage tanks. MobileDataforce has assisted many organizations around the world design, develop and deploy mobile applications for field data collection. For additional information please visit our website at http://www.mobiledataforce.com/

Kevin Benedict

Friday, April 25, 2008

Educational Video on Enterprise Mobility and Field Services Using Handheld PDAs

This week I had an interesting experience participating in a 60 minute educational video on trends in enterprise mobility and field services. It will be available for viewing on April 30th. The video has interviews with Psion Teklogix's President of the Americas, Ron Cains and myself.

MDF_invite_April2008.htm

It was an interesting experience. This was no amateur video. We had a crew that consisted of 2 cameramen, a sound guy, a make-up person, a producer and director. They were so professional that they even had those fluffy microphone covers.

The subject of the video is all aspects of mobile handhelds, smartphones, PDAs and mobile software applications.

Monday, April 21, 2008

World Travels and Trends in Mobile Software for Handheld PDAs

Greetings All,

I have been spending a lot of time at airports of late. Over the last few weeks I have travelled to San Francisco, England, Washington DC and today Cincinnati, Ohio. I have also learned a great deal. One of the things I have learned - The economy has not as yet negatively impacted MobileDataforce. Our sales were up 200% from first quarter 2007. The Wall Street Journal said last week that the economy does not yet seem to be significantly impacting most B2B sales. I must agree. Our customers are still buying mobile software for handheld PDAs and services in record numbers.

In England, we are working with a large number of services companies. It seems that most of our projects are related to asset management. By assets, I mean equipment, buildings and vehicles.

It may be that the reason service companies are buying from MobileDataforce in large numbers is to achieve the very efficiencies that a tough market requires.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mobile Handheld PDA Case Study: Utility Inspections, GPS and Field Data Collection



Company Overview:

LYNN-EDWARD Professional Services, Inc. (LEPService) delivers a full range of metering, SCADA and communications services to the utility industry. Based in Covington, Georgia, LEPService has served the utility industry throughout the Southeast since 1990, and is rapidly expanding into other geographic regions.

Research Challenge:

LEPService needed a mobile software solution that could efficiently track the installation and service of load management devices. The mobile software solution would enable the utilization of GIS mapping to effectively identify switch locations. A key requirement of the project was that it be designed modularly so that additional utility inspections could be added at a future date to cover their vast service offerings.

MobileDataforce Solution:

The initial mobile handheld software application developed for LEPService was for the tracking of load management devices. The application was initially designed to work on the Itronix Tablet PC running Windows Tablet PC Edition. The Tablet PC device was chosen over a rugged handheld computer to work with Delorme’s XMAP 4.5 GIS mapping software which required larger screen dimensions for GIS maps. Additional applications were developed that did not require GIS mapping, which made the less expensive and more compact Symbol MC70 PDA a better fit.

The professional services team at MobileDataforce developed a mobile software solution that combined the strengths of Delorme XMAP mapping features with PointSync’s mobile data collection features. The mobile solution leverages Delorme’s XMAP mapping features to allow a technician to search for locations based on Atlas Page, Grid, Street Name and Account Number. The PointSync Mobile application was designed to capture and view all inspection data related to utility load management switches and equipment at those specific locations including GPS data.

By using mobile software applications rather than paper forms, LEPService was able to:

Collect field data electronically
Synchronize the data directly from the Tablet PC and handheld devices to a central database
Reduce data entry time
Verify GPS data in both the PointSync and Delorme Systems
Ensure data accuracy through the use of data validation features in PointSync
Provide a foundation to add additional mobile inspection applications

By selecting MobileDataforce’s PointSync Mobility Platform and professional services, LEPService obtained a powerful and flexible enterprise quality mobility platform. They also were provided a team of experienced mobility experts to create and support their software application. MobileDataforce enabled LEPService to build upon their first mobile application using PointSync development tools and extend the capabilities of the application over time to include many new features.

“MobileDataforce has been spectacular to work with” said Mike Aiello Jr. President of LEPService. “PointSync has enabled our company to truly offer a superior product and improve our field service inspection services to our customers”. He further added, “The exceptional reliability and stability of PointSync Server platform has been exceptional. In over two years of full deployment, we have not had a single lost day of productivity due to software systems related issues. There have literally been none.”

About PointSync Mobility Platform:

PointSync Mobility Platform is an enterprise class mobile software platform used to rapidly design, develop, and deploy critical business mobile applications. It is architected to provide database centric mobile applications with bi-directional synchronization, connectivity, security, and enterprise database integration all within one product suite.

About MobileDataforce:

MobileDataforce is a global leader in the development of enterprise class and business critical software solutions for use on mobile handheld computers including Smart Phones, Tablet PCs, PDAs, and laptops. MobileDataforce has offices in Europe, North America, and Australia to support their ever expanding customer base and sales channels. Privately held, MobileDataforce has been mobilizing business solutions since 2000.

Conclusion:

LEPService was able to combine the strengths of two software programs, Delorme and PointSync, to more effectively inspect and service utility switches for their clients. MobileDataforce built a mobile solution that met the current inspections needs of LEPService’s clients while providing a foundation to develop and extend additional mobile inspection components in the future. The stability of the system has allowed for rapid deployment and growth of LEPService service offerings.

MobileDataforce assists organizations around the world in mobilizing business and field data collection processes. For additional information please visit our website at: http://www.mobiledataforce.com/.