Police officers need immediate access to critical information in order to do their jobs effectively.
That is why patrol vehicles are equipped with mobile computers, or rugged laptops for use in the car or out in the field. A reliable laptop allows officers to access and share information quickly while on patrol, aiding in investigations, apprehension of suspects, as well as interactions with community members. Today’s law enforcement equipment and technology must also be extremely durable to withstand the harshest conditions. Police laptops need powerful processors, ample storage, and reliable connectivity in the most remote or rural areas.
Police officers need mobile devices that have the same operating system, features, and Internet access as a desktop PC—but without having to go back to the station. Mobile computing devices have changed over the years as technology advances. Gone are the days of bulky monitors connected to a computer in the trunk. Slim, sleek devices in a wide range of screen sizes are mounted in various ways to maximize officer safety. From rapid response to real-time data access, in-vehicle computing offers unparalleled advantages for situational awareness. Following are a few of the latest rugged laptop offerings from some of the leading companies in mobile computing.
Brite is currently partnering with Getac to offer police agencies many rugged computer options and solutions.
The form factor of computing devices revolves around how officers plan to utilize the device in the field. Computing options include laptops, tablets, and 2-in-1s, each with its own purpose. Laptops are often ideal for those desiring a single device for officer use in the vehicle and in the office. Tablets are gaining favor as a device that can be used both in and out of the vehicle during patrol. 2-in-1s take it a step further, providing the best of both worlds. Once the officer use case is confirmed, screen size is the next consideration. Getac’s Windows-capable devices range from as small as 8.1 inches to as large as 14 inches. The wide variety of sizes makes it easy to find the right unit to accommodate technology needs and in-vehicle space requirements.
Rugged or Vehicle Rugged?
The goal of in-vehicle computers is to increase the efficiency and safety of users and enable them to be in the field for longer periods. For law enforcement, this enhances community presence. The more flexible a device is, the easier it is to fit into the use case. As devices have evolved in size and rugged options, they have also decreased in weight. Now fully rugged tablets are lightweight, allowing the users to remove the devices from the vehicle to respond to incidents. Report notes, images, and other details can be captured directly on the PC at the scene, saving transcribing time and/or the need to return to HQ.
Not everyone needs a fully rugged computer. If the device will only be used in the vehicle, why does it need to withstand 2 inches of rain per hour, full submersion, or a 6-foot drop onto concrete? In these situations, fleets may consider a vehicle-rugged device. Vehicle-rugged PCs are still able to withstand wide ranges of temperatures, vibrations, and heavy use—many of the necessary specifications to withstand the challenging patrol environment. These slightly less rugged devices often come at a lower price point, making them a budget-friendly option for the right conditions.
Dual Hot-Swappable Batteries
The dreaded low battery alert is a thing of the past with the advent of dual hot-swappable batteries. The new battery system greatly improves battery time and reduces downtime required for charging. Without turning off the device, a new fully charged battery can replace a depleted one. Swappable batteries are stored in battery charging bays to ensure a fully charged supply.
Sunlight Readable Display
Public safety officials don’t have the option to close the blinds in bright light when they are on the road or on-scene. The screen needs to be readable under any and all conditions. This is why Getac has developed the LumiBond sunlight-readable touchscreen display that enhances viewing even in the toughest conditions.
Years ago, people often carried a cell phone, a digital camera, and a wallet. Now, that is all integrated into a single smartphone. Mobile computers have evolved to include these same features. The advances in technology, improvements in computing power, and changes in form factor have lent itself to flexible platforms that can be customized to include traditionally separate tools. Here are some of the most commonly integrated features:
Integrated 5G Connectivity & FirstNet
5G has taken the public safety scene by storm. Officers on patrol need fast and reliable information to make informed decisions. The quicker information can be delivered, the faster they are able to respond. Integrated 5G is a critical addition that enables officers to utilize faster connections and lower latency. Additionally, the integration of FirstNet capable networks ensures connectivity in critical situations when it is needed most.
Integrated Barcode Reader
Barcodes are everywhere. The simple lines provide a vast array of information to public safety officials from personal information to vehicle information. Scanning barcodes is a simple way to quickly gather data while removing input errors. Instead of having a separate device in the car for scanning (and a second device to manage), barcode readers can be integrated into many popular Getac models.
CJIS Compliant Fingerprint Reader
Data security is critical for any agency, especially when in the field. An easy first line of defense against unwanted access to data on a computer in the vehicle is a high-end fingerprint reader. For public safety, that means a CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services) compliant reader that ensures fidelity in the print identification. Not only does this increase security, it simplifies device access with the swipe of a finger.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
Integrated GPS provides a variety of advantages to both the person in the vehicle and those back at HQ. Brite helps customers determine the best location for the GPS system. Modern public safety computers allow for integrated GPS within the device. GPS has many benefits, including operational efficiency of officer dispatch, the ability to feed accurate location information to other connected systems like ticketing and scene images, and critical voiceless communication.
No-Fault, Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty
Many officers have experienced the blame game when trying to get something covered under warranty. Did it get exposed to moisture from a spill? Was it dropped? Restrictive warranty support is a relic of the past with Getac’s bumper-to-bumper warranty. The standard 3-year or optional 5-year warranty covers everything. The best part is that the device is returned in 2.3 days on average thanks to the centralized repair hub in Memphis, TN. The entire warranty process is easily managed through a simple 24/7 online portal, from entry to status updates.
Brite has experience mounting devices in everything from police cruisers, EMS vehicles, and fire apparatuses to boats and motorcycles. For a computer to work for an agency or officer, it needs to work within the vehicle. That is why Brite ensures that the devices offered can be mounted in a variety of ways including dash mounts, swing-aways, and pedestal mounts. The mount is just as critical as the device when designing the in-vehicle setup.
Technology changes fast, so staying abreast of the latest advancements is critical when planning a refresh. The average lifespan of a patrol computer is approximately five years. Investment in the latest technology now will ensure the longevity of the platform, even as it approaches end of life. Additionally, plan for the unexpected with an extensive no-fault warranty to keep vehicles and their technology in the field.
The new Dell Latitude 7030 Rugged Extreme Tablet is the world’s lightest 10-inch fully rugged Windows tablet. Featuring a robust ecosystem of accessories and hot-swappable batteries for extended performance, the 7030 Rugged Extreme Tablet was designed for workers who spend most of their time away from a desk, including police officers.
Marrying durability and mobility, the 7030 Rugged Extreme Tablet is Dell’s most portable fully rugged tablet. Its lightweight 2.2-pound chassis and convenient accessories mean the tablet won’t feel unwieldy, so officers get relief at the scene of an accident or other sites.
Last year, Dell launched the Latitude 7230 Rugged Extreme Tablet, a 12-inch fully rugged slate that shares key performance, security, connectivity, and durability features with the 7030 Rugged Extreme. The new 10-inch model is a companion to its larger sibling. While the 12-inch tablet performs well on short commutes or during hours-long shifts, the 10-inch slate offers all-day mobility.
When portability is a priority, first responders must keep their systems powered without interruption. That’s why Dell engineered the 7030 Rugged Extreme with a dual hot-swappable battery option as an alternative to the 36Whr internal battery. Those who choose this feature can easily pop in two additional batteries to keep the tablet powered for long days or nights in the field.
Durability and Security
The 7030 Rugged Extreme boasts IP-65 and MIL-STD 810 ratings to survive the most extreme conditions. Military-grade spec means the new Latitude is drop-tested from up to 4 feet and temperature-tested from -20 F to 145 F. An IP-65 rating means maximum protection from dust, dirt, and water ingress to give officers peace of mind that their tablets—and the sensitive data housed within—survive intense weather environments.
Dell equipped this fully rugged tablet with modern security features to ensure it is as safe from cyber threats as it is from environmental ones. Its TPM 2.0 ControlVault is a hardware-based encryption tool that helps users secure data with integrated encryption. An infrared camera for Microsoft Windows Hello-based facial recognition, a touch fingerprint reader, camera privacy shutters, and a contacted or contactless smartcard reader round out the security options.
Powerful Performance and Modern Features
The 7030 Rugged Extreme Tablet comes equipped with up to a 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor, integrated Iris® Xe® graphics on i5 and i7 configurations, and up to 32GB of LPDDR5 memory for powerful performance on the go. Officers don’t need to worry about running out of space, because the 7030 Rugged Extreme supports up to a 2TB NVMe SSD.
Robust connectivity options can be as important as strong performance. The 7030 Rugged Extreme supports Wi-Fi 6E with dual broadband to help ensure users get the fastest possible speeds. The 7030 Rugged Extreme also comes with GPS and 5G, and even supports 5G Private Network for improvements in security, speed, and wireless range.
Real-time data is viewed on the 7030 Rugged Extreme’s 10.1-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) display, which has a 16:10 aspect ratio that maximizes screen real estate. No need to look for shade, because the panel can reach 1,000 nits, making it visible even in direct sunlight. Plus, those who work with harsh chemicals or dangerous equipment can stay protected with the 7030’s glove-touch capability.
While the 7030 Rugged Extreme can accommodate a range of diverse tasks, its Dell-branded accessories are purpose-built to tackle specific demands. Here are a few highlights:
Rigid handle and passive stylus: This pairing gives users a grip for carrying the 7030 Rugged Extreme and a passive stylus for greater precision when writing or drawing. The handle conveniently stores the pen and has a rubber mold and rigid polymer structure. The passive stylus can also be purchased separately.
Detachable keyboard: Convert the 7030 Rugged Extreme into a 2-in-1 with the IP-65-rated detachable RGB backlit keyboard that easily locks into place. Once attached, the tablet can be propped upright for standard “laptop” mode or folded 180 degrees.
Rotating hand strap: A 360-degree rotating hand strap allows users to comfortably secure the tablet to their wrist for use in static or mobile environments. The strap attaches to a 50×50 VESA mount and includes a convenient place to store the stylus.
The versatility of these accessories extends to the 7030 Rugged Extreme Tablet’s configurable ports, which can be customized with a barcode scanner, RJ-45, universal audio jack, or USB-A. Dell built the 7030 Rugged Extreme Tablet to adapt to various industries, which is why it also features two hardware buttons that can be programmed in the Rugged Control Center application.
The 7030 Rugged Extreme will be available globally later this year, with pricing announced closer to shipping. For agencies deploying rugged devices at scale, fleets of tablets can be seamlessly deployed, managed, and secured over the cloud, with additional support through enterprise services such as next-business-day on-site support and predictive ProSupport tools. By going with Dell, agencies have a one-stop shop for all of their commercial needs, be that PCs, workstations, rugged devices, monitors, servers, and even services—with reassurance they can scale to specific needs.
Panasonic Connect offers a full portfolio of rugged laptops and support solutions designed specifically for the modern police agency. The solutions meet law enforcement’s unique mobility needs, and help officers do their jobs safely, efficiently, and confidently.
Consumer devices or “bring your own device” (BYOD) programs can introduce a whole different set of challenges for law enforcement. Not only do these devices pose potential security risks, but they’re also difficult for agencies to manage and monitor and may require additional user training about threat and risk reduction.
Generally speaking, consumer-grade and BYOD devices:
- Have limited appeal for the next generation of recruits
- Don’t handle drops and impacts well
- Often lack customizability in features and add-ons
- Typically have subpar speech recognition capabilities
- Can’t be mounted securely
- May not be compliant with Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) requirements
Police laptops require these essential features and more, as these rugged devices play a crucial role in fieldwork. That’s why many law enforcement agencies use Panasonic TOUGHBOOK® rugged laptops to support officers with more efficient and flexible workflows. By deploying TOUGHBOOK law enforcement solutions, officers can streamline tasks and spend more time interacting with their communities.
Mobile Device Management
Law enforcement agencies often turn to mobile device management (MDM) solutions to manage and secure police laptops, smartphones, and tablets. The use of MDM continues to grow in popularity among law enforcement agencies because it offers the capability to track device usage and health, enforce device security policies, and manage the applications present on devices.
As essential components in any law enforcement tech stack, rugged mobile computers enable officers to perform their duties effectively and securely from any location. Through MDM, law enforcement data remains secure and devices are always up to date to ensure CJIS compliance. Additionally, leveraging MDM capabilities as an end-to-end solution for deploying, monitoring, and managing rugged field devices frees up a department’s IT staff to focus on higher-value activities.
With enterprise mobility solutions like Panasonic Connect’s Professional Services support and Smart Essentials services, law enforcement agencies gain features that augment the data and capabilities of an MDM solution, gaining real-time data about usage, location, errors, and more. With this information at their fingertips, agencies ensure that devices always operate reliably out in the field where officers need them most.
Real-Time Communications and Compatibility
Through better police computers and other law enforcement technology solutions, officers gain real-time communication and other capabilities. This ultimately helps departments:
- Transform officer data input with xPAK and barcode reader technology.
- Ensure only authorized access to CJIS data with endpoint security software.
- Boost officer productivity with intelligent technology.
Mobile law enforcement technology has the power to revolutionize police work. Using rugged mobile police computers, officers get the data they need to prepare themselves, respond to incidents and emergencies faster, and provide the public with the accountability that it demands.
Speech Recognition Technology
The time spent on incident reporting can significantly impact productivity and efficiency, so much so that 45 percent of respondents to a Nuance survey reported writing and filing incident reports as the most significant drain on productivity. A single incident report can take up to two hours to process. This causes officers to spend significant time behind a desk at the station instead of face-to-face with the community. Advancements in voice-powered technology are solving this challenge by giving officers a path to easier, more streamlined incident reporting using a police laptop in the field.
Collaboration between police departments and individual officers is essential for effective law enforcement. Working together, departments share resources and information, cover more ground, and operate more efficiently. Successful execution of collaborative programs requires up-to-date police technology, including cloud software, mobile devices for officers in the field, reliable broadband connectivity, and voice-to-text.
Here are some of the ways law enforcement technology supports effective collaboration for officers:
- Cloud applications facilitate data sharing across departments.
- Rugged, smart mobile devices enable fast communications between officers.
- Voice-to-text can greatly reduce the burden of administrative tasks.
Connectivity is crucial in a police vehicle, at the scene of an accident or at a crime scene.
Officers need a police laptop that grants them immediate access to criminal records, warrants, vehicle information, and call history to effectively respond to a situation. By using laptops to access databases on the go, officers can retrieve crucial information in real time while en route or on scene. This also helps reduce time spent on labor-intensive, follow-up paperwork after an incident. To augment existing officer resources available, many law enforcement agencies are turning to new technologies like Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), fingerprint readers, and voice-to-text technology. These technologies are giving police officers fast access to the critical data they need to do their jobs effectively.
As law enforcement agencies evolve practices and procedures, one thing is clear: Advanced technology and connectivity will shape their decisions around mobile technology and police laptop selection and adoption as they develop operational plans for the future. Looking ahead, more agencies will leverage advanced technologies like virtual reality (VR) to further accelerate remote work capabilities and training. As software continues its migration to the cloud, officers will be able to gather, record, and share real-time data from and between practically any device.
Zebra’s ET80 and ET85 Rugged Windows OS Tablets are available as a standalone tablet, or with a detachable friction hinge keyboard to provide a true 2-in-1 experience to offer the flexibility an agency demands. It was designed and built for first responders who have demanding field requirements in mind. It is thin and lightweight, with a long battery life, yet rugged for extreme conditions to work wherever and whenever they do. Officers can take it with them in their vehicle, out in the field, or at the station. Models with WiFi 6E and 5G are available now. Agencies can take collaboration and productivity to the next level with Zebra OneCare, 24/7 support services.
ET80/ET85 tablets are built to withstand extreme conditions, yet they are thinner and lighter than other 2-in-1 rugged tablets on the market in its class. They adapt to different ways of working—moving from the field to a vehicle to inside a facility. These tablets transform to a fixed or mobile workstation at any location to best meet an agency’s needs.
With advanced wireless connections, users get the fastest WiFi and cellular speeds, support for WiFi 6E, and 5G or 4G included. Urgencies happen with regularity for first responders, so they must rely on a tablet that’s as tough as their environment with military-grade ruggedness. The ET80/ET85 is built to perform in extreme conditions, so users can worry less about their equipment and stay focused on the moments that matter. The ET80/ET85 series has a long battery life, it can withstand extreme temperature ranges, it is MIL-Spec rated for drops and vibration, and is IP-rated for water and dust ingress.
ET6x Series Tablets
Zebra’s new ET60 and ET65 series of tablets allow users to effortlessly maximize productivity and efficiency because they deliver more features, more power, more security, more ruggedness, and more versatility. Designed for work, the ET60 WiFi and ET65 WiFi and cellular enterprise tablets are ready for the most demanding environments. These flexible tablets can be whatever users need them to be—a tablet, a laptop, and a vehicle-mounted mobile data computer. They are loaded with features that help get the job done faster and more efficiently.
These tablets pass more real-world tests than any other tablet in their class. They’re drop-tested to concrete, dustproof, freezer-proof, rated for hose-downs, ready for all the elements including rain, snow, and ice. Additional tests that make these tablets even more rugged include thermal shock, heavy exposure to sunlight, and an impact test on the touchscreen.
5G and WiFi 6E provide the fastest cellular and WiFi speeds available. Support for private 5G and Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) 4G/LTE enables superior wireless connectivity, application performance, and security in expansive indoor and outdoor areas for a fraction of the time and cost required to deploy WiFi.
Zebra Mobility DNA is a suite of enterprise solutions designed to help maximize mobile user productivity and minimize IT complexities over the lifespan of a Zebra device. Their secure solutions help support every stage of a device’s lifecycle, simplifying device lifecycle management and lowering total cost of ownership.
Consumer-grade tablets might appear to be a cost-effective option for agencies because the price is low. But without the right features, savings can quickly turn into substantial hidden costs—needing to purchase a case to increase durability, a scanner for intense scanning tasks, and managing more frequent device replacements. The ET40/ET45 is the right-priced rugged enterprise tablet with all the features first responders need on the job.
The ET4X Series tablets are built to last, from the inside out. Drop it, use it in subzero temperatures, hose it off—and it still works. The exact same device will be available for three years, eliminating mixed-device deployments that are more time-consuming and costly to support. Since Zebra’s optional OneCare Essential and Select support services are available for a full six years from the initial date of sale, officers can count on the support they need every day their tablets are in use.
Users can choose their screen size; the 8-inch or the 10-inch for easy viewing of information-rich apps. Other features include:
- Capture barcodes in any condition with the integrated enterprise-class scanner.
- Take ultra-detailed photos with the high-resolution rear camera.
- Enable video calls for better collaboration with the integrated front camera.
- Boost productivity with the latest and fastest wireless connections—including WiFi 6 and 5G. Power shift after shift with the optional hot-swappable secondary battery.
- Create a mobile point of sale (POS) with innovative payment solutions.
Get a built-in advantage with complimentary Zebra Mobility DNA Professional tools that make every aspect of owning these tablets easier:
- Enter barcodes into apps without any programming.
- Control which GMS services and apps are available.
- Easily troubleshoot tablets—test all main systems with the press of a button and collect targeted diagnostics.
- Automatically enable enterprise mobility management (EMM) support for every feature in the user’s tablet for easy device management.
- Boost device security and more by adding features to Android.
- Unlock more tools to boost workforce productivity with optional Mobility DNA Enterprise.
Zebra Mobility DNA is a suite of enterprise solutions designed to help maximize mobile user productivity and minimize IT complexities over the lifespan of a Zebra device. Their secure solutions help support every stage of a device’s lifecycle, simplifying device management and lowering total cost of ownership.