1. #1
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    Default does your department use a tablet or pc for navigation and fire/ems tools

    My department is looking at getting an android tablet to be used for navigation. Several of thw 'fire apps' would also come in handy, such as ones that identify placards, show cutting points on hybrid vehicles, and even an app to pre plan. I just wanted to see what other department has done this and if you haven't what is your alternative? We respond out of our district a lot so we constantly have to find the map book and check locations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigwidge View Post
    My department is looking at getting an android tablet to be used for navigation. Several of thw 'fire apps' would also come in handy, such as ones that identify placards, show cutting points on hybrid vehicles, and even an app to pre plan. I just wanted to see what other department has done this and if you haven't what is your alternative? We respond out of our district a lot so we constantly have to find the map book and check locations.
    We have toughbooks for this purpose. They run First Look Pro for preplans and mapping. Honestly they're not working as well as I had hoped. They can be sluggish and unless you leave them in exactly the right state (programs running, search screen up..etc) you will be half-way there before the map draws. We are hoping some hardware upgrades help this.

    I know tablets are all the rage, but question how well they'd work on a fire apparatus. It's hard enough using an actual keyboard while bouncing around the front seat, typing on a touchscreen will be next to impossible.
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    I agree with your statement, but I think the growing applications in the Android Market might make it worthwhile to have one in the truck. Ours would be used solely for navigation, which can be punched in before we leave the station on the majority of our calls. We looked into toughbooks, but the reviews and the price deters us being a small town company and all. For a department in the city this may not be sufficient, but I think for a company like mine that has about 250 calls per year we will be just fine

    Also we can get a keyboard attachment for the tablet, fixing the issue if the touchscreen doesnt work out.

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    A Win tablet is more likely to meet the needs of the fire service than anything Android (or Apple). Just a more "grownup"/business platform.

    The major benefit of the tablet is the touchscreen "interface' that eliminates the keyboard. Win7 has shortcomings in that area vs Android however. Win8 is rumored to fix much of the problems. We will see.

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    We just got a Panasonic toughbook with touchscreen capability through a grant. However the EMS software that is out there is very expensive and not financially reasonable for the small number of runs we do. Therefore I am writing my own software to take and process patient info.

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    I am currently looking into something like this for our department. We have recently looked at a Dell Streak It has wifi and 4G built into it. We were thinking about getting one and using it for GPS, reports, and other options such as Hazmat and other Fire uses.

    Just wondering if using it just for GPS wouldn't a cheaper GPS unit be the best option. Or maybe I misunderstood.

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    We are still discussing a tablet for our department. It would be used for navigation via cadpage and google navigation for the time being, with some other apps being used as need be (ie. friction loss calc, hazmat placard info, sops, and hopefully a state fire software when avaliable which may be able to work remotely) Looking at the motorola xoom for this purpose. Also it has GPS and bluetooth so it could be used to track us to a call as well as send patient info from the zoll monitor from the ambulance.

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    Does anyone use the Firehouse NFIRS software on the tablets or know if its compatible. I just started looking into these myself for our smaller department, all the larger departments around us are using the toughbooks however they are extremely expensive and as one mentioned slow at booting up unless you leave them on all the time. The only thing holding us back is I would like to be able to do our fire reports on the tablets eliminating the need for 2 reports as right now i have to write a paper one and later enter it at the firehouse when we return.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfd2674 View Post
    Does anyone use the Firehouse NFIRS software on the tablets or know if its compatible.

    I've tried to use it on a tablet via remote desktop back to the station. While it technically worked it was sluggish and a PITA. Depending on what you need on your paper report, that may be faster and easier.

    There is a mobile version of Firehouse that looks like it can run on a Windows-based tablet. I don't have any experience with it, however.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfd2674 View Post
    Does anyone use the Firehouse NFIRS software on the tablets or know if its compatible. I just started looking into these myself for our smaller department, all the larger departments around us are using the toughbooks however they are extremely expensive and as one mentioned slow at booting up unless you leave them on all the time. The only thing holding us back is I would like to be able to do our fire reports on the tablets eliminating the need for 2 reports as right now i have to write a paper one and later enter it at the firehouse when we return.
    We seem to be in the same boat, I am a small town department as well. Surrounding departments to my firehouse but the software used in my county at this time is very behind the times and out of date. I know eventually the fire service will go to a tablet form and I was hoping to be the first to try it in my area. We dont necessarily need to do our fire reports off the tablet, but more or less just provide directions and some other functions the tablet offers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    I've tried to use it on a tablet via remote desktop back to the station. While it technically worked it was sluggish and a PITA. Depending on what you need on your paper report, that may be faster and easier.

    There is a mobile version of Firehouse that looks like it can run on a Windows-based tablet. I don't have any experience with it, however.
    Also I believe that your issue may lie in the computer you are remote hosting off of. I tried this on my personal tablet to my home computer but my computer does not have the proper specs to keep up with the needs of the remote hosting, resulting in it being extremely slow and laggy. I think to do remote hosting you will need a computer with a fairly good processor and a fairly good amount of RAM

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    Right now were using garmin GPS for our directions so for it to be worth the purchase we would have to be able to do our reports and pre plans.

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    We also have a GPS for our ambulance unit but it takes forever to map a call since it asks for zip code, address, city, etc. I was thinking of the new Motorola XYBOARD and using Cadpage which maps calls from a text page to google maps for navigation and eventually looking into a program to do pre-plans and run sheets. The one on the ambulance would use a e-PCR app, there are a few to pick from but would be useful.

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    thought I would share what I have found software-wise for the tablets... check out these links

    http://www.chirange.com/

    http://www.streetwisecadlink.com/

    Both offer some really great features, but vary in some key areas. Chirange seems to focus more on tools for the incident commander such as tracking member locations and hazardous areas, while Streetwise offers more information for navigation, preplans, hydrants, live tracking of other units responding, and even the ability to share an on scene photo with responding units.
    Last edited by Bigwidge; 12-27-2011 at 09:24 PM.

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    We are currently running Panasonic Toughbooks on our apparatus but are considering updating the equipment to either newer laptops or tablets. Has any one run into issues with the reliability or durability of tablets in fire apparatus? Any successes or challenges? ANY FEEDBACK is welcome. If you are using a Tablet, please let me know what has worked and what has not. Thank you!

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    We are getting ours in a few days so I will be happy to give you any positive and/or negative feedback we have

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    Tablets are a great way to start taking advantage of EMS software that is out there on the market. Anything that is deemed as SaaS (software as a service) will be accessible from your tablet so long as you've got an Internet connection. Not all EMS software providers have apps for their solutions, rather they can be accessed from any given web browser. One of the latest examples of EMS billing software that can be accessed from a tablet is AdvanceClaim (http://www.penncare.net/softwaredivi...gsoftware.aspx). Our department is currently investigating this option to replace our legacy EMS billing solution... Anybody else looking to replace legacy EMS billing software?

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    Weíve been running Panasonic laptops in our frontline apparatus since 1998 and understand the budgetary and technical challenges. Tablets are all the rage and inexpensive compared to a hardened laptops. Here are a few issues I see with tables compared to laptops.

    1. Operating temperatures. The iPad has an operation range of 32-95 degrees. As any iPad owner can tell you, donít leave your iPad in the sun for any length of time and except it to work. The iPad will enter a thermal shut down state and have to be cooled before you can operate them. Testing has shown that an iPad on top of the doghouse will shut down after the rig has returned to the station from the radiant heat. Also, if an apparatus is left outside for any reason during the summer months, heat in the cab will cause the iPad to shutdown as well. What good is any device if is not working when the crews enter the cab?

    2. Daylight operations. The CF-30 has a screen brightness of 1000 NITS. Current iPads have a nit rating of around 400. Rumor has it that the new iPad 3 will produce 550 nits. Depending on your usage, being able to see your screen in daylight is important. It may look great in the office, but if the officers canít see the screens in the field what good is it?

    3. Mounting. Iíve not found a mount that will hold an iPad when in a hardened case like an Otterbox. Things get wet in the cab of a fire truck, guys throwing wet gear in the seat is the biggest threat. How is the tablet to be used? Permanently mounted in the truck or semi-permanently so the officer can remove the unit for field operations? I know that GPS coverage with our GPS enabled Panasonicís varies from unit to unit. Some of our unitís doghouses sits high and back in the cab. Because of this we have to run an external GPS unit in those trucks. If you use a hotspot type device in your truck (cheaper iPads and more devices connected), then what happens when the officer takes the iPad out of the truck? How far will the hotspot work?

    4. Vertical Software. Many of us run software that is not compatible with ANY tablet except those running Windows. This can cause more expense moving or purchasing software to support your operations. This really should be at the top of the list. Again, we are seeing more and more applications for public safety on both Apple and Android devices. Time will tell which will win.

    5. Connectivity. This has gotten a lot better since the days of CDPD. We use a cell provider rather than our own home brewed solution. Why? Letís see, how many times has the technology changed since 1998? If we had invested into the backbone and hardware to support over 100 square miles, then we would still be on that system do the lack of funds to replace or upgrade it every time something bigger and faster came out. The cell company has upgraded our hardware every time to support the newer service they provide. One downfall to cell service, is when peak demands place constraints on the system, it affects us with slow connectivity or an outage (Has happened only 3 times in 14 years). We have moved to the newer LTE, but we have not had an event to stress test the system.

    Now the good. Tablets are cheap compared to hardened laptops. The ratio is 4.2 tablets to 1 Laptop. Ease of use, sorry Microsoft, but Apple has you beat hands down on that one. The ECO system, why pay $50+ for a Windows application when you can get same if not better for .99 to $5. ECO system also has to do with the systems behind the tablet, like a Kindle Fire requires you to buy apps from Amazon. If you want an app from the Android marketplace you have to hack your device. Do I have to hack my device to get what I want, sorry not everyone is a nerd and end users donít care, they just want it to work. Everyone wants to get on this bandwagon and you will see more apps for Public Safety as the industry matures.

    For smaller agencies the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) may be the device model of choice. There are current products out there like www.first-responder.com where users can use their own device for responding and on-scene events. There are others that have been mentioned here that support paging and capturing that page and sending it to Google Maps. Iíll admit, we have a button on our laptop for calls outside our city that you press and it presents the call on a Google map.

    Do I see this changing from laptop to tablets, you bet. But the tablet market (non-pc version) must mature and not require me to bootstrap or hack a device for it to work. Oh yea, it needs to be Fireman Proof :-)

    Mark Voyles
    Technology Coordinator
    Edmond Fire Department
    Edmond, OK

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    Weíve been running Panasonic laptops in our frontline apparatus since 1998 and understand the budgetary and technical challenges. Tablets are all the rage and inexpensive compared to a hardened laptops. Here are a few issues I see with tables compared to laptops.

    1. Operating temperatures. The iPad has an operation range of 32-95 degrees. As any iPad owner can tell you, donít leave your iPad in the sun. They will enter a thermal shut down state and have to be cooled before you can operate them. Testing has shown that an iPad on top of the doghouse will shut down after the rig has returned to the station from the radiant heat. Also, if an apparatus is left outside for any reason during the summer months, heat in the cab will cause the iPad to shutdown as well. What good is any device it is not working when the crews enter the cab?

    2. Daylight operations. The CF-30 has a screen brightness of 1000 NITS. Current iPads have a nit rating of around 400. Rumor has it that the new iPad 3 will produce 550 nits. Depending on your usage, being able to see your screen is important to the personnel using it in the field. It may look great in the office, but if the officers canít see the screens in the field what good is it?

    3. Mounting. Iíve not found a mount that will hold an iPad when in a hardened case like an Otterbox. Things get wet in the cab of a fire truck, guys throwing wet gear in the seat is the biggest threat. How is the tablet to be used? Permanently mounted in the truck or semi-permanently so the officer can remove the unit for field operations? I know that GPS coverage with our GPS enabled Panasonicís varies from unit to unit. Some of our unitís doghouses sits high and back in the cab. Because of this we have to run an external GPS unit in those trucks. If you use a hotspot type device in your truck (cheaper iPads and more devices connected), then what happens when the officer takes the iPad out of the truck? How far will the hotspot work?

    4. Vertical Software. Many of us run software that is not compatible with ANY tablet except those running Windows. This can cause more expense moving or purchasing software to support your operations. This really is should be at the top of the list. Again, we are seeing more and more applications for public safety on both Apple and Android devices. Time will tell which will win.

    5. Connectivity. This has gotten a lot better since the days of CDPD. We use a cell provider rather than our own home brewed solution. Why? Letís see, how many times has the technology changed since 1998? If we had invested into the backbone and hardware to support over 100 square miles, then we would still be on that system do the lack of funds to replace or upgrade it every time something bigger and faster came out. The cell company has upgraded our hardware every time to support the newer service they provide. One downfall to cell service, is when peak demands place constraints on the system, it affects us with slow connectivity or an outage (Has happened only 3 times in 14 years). We have moved to the newer LTE, but not had an event to stress test the system.

    Now the good. Tablets are cheap compared to hardened laptops. The ratio is 4.2 tablets to 1 Laptop. Ease of use, sorry Microsoft, but Apple has you beat hands down on that one. The ECO system, why pay $50+ for a Windows application when you can get same if not better for .99 to $5. ECO system also has to do with the systems behind the tablet. Do I have to hack my device to get what I want, sorry not everyone is a nerd and end users donít care, they just want it to work. Everyone wants to get on this bandwagon and you will see more apps for Public Safety as the industry matures.

    For smaller agencies the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) may be the device model of choice. There are current products out there like www.first-responder.com where users can their own device for responding and on-scene event. There are others that have been mentioned here that support paging and capturing that page and sending it to Google Maps. Iíll admit, we have a button on our laptop for calls outside our city that you press and it presents the call on a Google map.

    Do I see this changing from laptop to tablets, you bet. But the tablet market (non-pc version) must mature and not require me to bootstrap or hack a device for it to work. Oh yea, it needs to be Fireman Proof.

    Mark Voyles
    Technology Coordinator
    Edmond Fire Department
    Edmond, OK

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    We have had our Motorola Xyboard 10.1" tablets in our trucks for about a week now, and everything is running great. For starting we simply used Google maps to map our calls which gave us the option to either type the address or speak it to the tablet, which is much easier. Today we began using software from Chirange Technologies and it is some very sophisticated software which actually surpasses our needs. As for mounting, we purchased mounts from Padholdr, which is by far the best tablet mounts on the market. They are beefy and well made so I don't ever think of the tablet falling out. The mounts consist of a U shape, where the tablet slides down into the mount when in the truck and easily removed by simply picking the tablet up and out of the mount. One thing I need to find is a way to integrate CAD to recieve calls automatically vs having to manually input every call

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    Thought I would ask Big Widge how the XyBoard tablets are working out? I hope well because we start mounting our XyBoard tablets in all apparatus (heavy and light duty) next week as well as hoping to be functioing with Streetwise CADLink by middle to end of July. We are going with the locking mounts by RAM and hoping they integrate and work well.

    Thanks and be safe.
    Stay low and move it in.

    Be safe.


    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by STATION2 View Post
    Thought I would ask Big Widge how the XyBoard tablets are working out? I hope well because we start mounting our XyBoard tablets in all apparatus (heavy and light duty) next week as well as hoping to be functioing with Streetwise CADLink by middle to end of July. We are going with the locking mounts by RAM and hoping they integrate and work well.

    Thanks and be safe.
    Very curious about this as well. We were pretty much sold on Streetwise, but then found out they were kind of a one way street. Meaning I don't believe they can communicate back to a 911CAD, ie. Enroute, On-Scene etc. Thanks!

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    Never realized anyone had replied to this post. Anyway, it has been just under a year where we had our tablets and I wanted to give everyone an update on how everything is going.

    Good:
    -Navigation is good when it works, members like the speech to text feature.
    -Decent battery life on tablets, plenty of battery for our needs
    -Tablets work very good and are reliable (Only problem stated below, which is user error not tablet problems)
    Bad:
    -On the note of navigation, from time to time the tablets have trouble locking onto GPS when leaving the station, they cant get a lock from inside the station. (It seems the tablets also have trouble trading off from wifi to 4G easily, so we have disabled the wifi since its easier for it to lock onto cell signal this way)
    -Still no software, however we are on the very edge of ordering Streetwise and going that route, very pleased with what they have to offer.
    -We have been having some issues with the drivers of the ambulance hitting the chargers and knocking them out of the cigarette outlet, resulting in the tablets not charing, however we fixed that by screwing a plate on that secures the charger to the dash so it cant be removed.
    -On the same note, members seem to be quick to pull the tablet out of the 'padholdr' mount, which in time kinks the cable since they don't take the time to unplug it first. Since the cable kinks we often get in the truck for a call to find the tablet not charging or even dead. We fixed this by locking the tablets to the mounts with a latch (Next mounts will be the locking padholdr mount). Another option we have considered is getting some stainless steel braiding to cover the micro usb cable with.


    So as of right now the tablets good WHEN they work right, but most of the problems we have faced will been fixed and once we get Streetwise I think our members will be more than pleased with the tablets and the streetwise software.

    If anybody has any questions whatsoever, or even some pointers or suggestions, feel free to email me at jakewidgeon_sdhs@yahoo.com

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    Reviving an old thread, but my volunteer department (around 400 fire runs a year) is looking into doing tablets in our truck now. I was wondering how these are holding up for you guys?

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    Bedford and Amherst Fire Department in the Southeast New Hampshire are replacing MDT with iPhone and iPad to improve mobility, productivity and efficiency. The app they are using is called PublicEye developed by Zco that provides advance features that transform smartphone and tablet into powerful public safety tool such as accessing to 911 calls detail, fire hydrants location, GPS Unit location, building pre-plan, incident report and surveillance camera system. The best thing about this is that Firefighters can get these information anywhere anytime from their mobile devices unlike the ruggedized laptop mount inside the car.

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