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Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Increases Officer Safety and Efficiency with Panasonic Toughbook H2 Windows Tablet

Handheld tablets enable electronic reporting and reduce roadside time

Research tells us that every minute a police officer is on the roadside with a traffic incident, the probability of a secondary collision occurring increases by 2.8 percent.

This means that, statistically, every 36 minutes of roadside time for an officer may result in a secondary collision. Research also shows that secondary collisions tend to be more severe than the original incident. For the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Highway Patrol Division, as with many other law enforcement agencies across the country, these statistics aren't just numbers—they're potential lives lost.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Highway Patrol Division needed a mobile technology solution for reporting and for issuing e-citations in the field that would improve efficiency and, ultimately, officer safety.

Arizona DPS equipped its officers with Toughbook® H2 Windows® handheld tablet PCs. The Toughbook H2's mobility makes it the ultimate productivity tool for e-citations and electronic reporting.

With the Toughbook H2 solution, the Arizona Highway Patrol officers are now able to perform tasks more efficiently and accurately, ultimately saving time as well as providing for increased officer safety.

Highway Patrol is the flagship division of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, including 780 sworn personnel tasked with enforcing the state's traffic and criminal laws on nearly 6,000 miles of state and federal highways. These officers make more than half a million traffic stops a year, respond to thousands of traffic collisions, requests for motorist assistance and other calls for service.

For these officers, efficiency means safety-reducing time on a roadside decreases the opportunity for a dangerous and potentially fatal secondary crash to occur. To reduce these risks, the division required a technology solution that delivered the mobility, processing power and feature set officers needed to do their jobs in the field, as well as the rugged durability that would endure drops, falls, spills and the state's extreme climate.

Enhancing Mobility with Reliable Technology

Since 2000, the Arizona DPS has relied on Panasonic Toughbook® mobile computers to improve officer safety and mobility. Every officer in the Highway Patrol division has access to a Panasonic Toughbook mobile computer, said Arizona DPS Capt. Jeff King. Many of the officers within the division currently rely on Toughbook H2 Windows® handheld tablet PCs, and the department plans to deploy the device to the rest of the organization through attrition of the older but still functional Toughbook mobile computers.

Handheld computers for public safety officers

The fully-rugged, ergonomic Toughbook H2 handheld tablet PC offers the mix of mobility, performance and connectivity capabilities that Arizona's Highway Patrol officers need. Running the full Windows® operating system, and with a 10.1-inch sunlight-viewable LED screen, an integrated camera and barcode reader, and options including embedded 4G LTE or 3G Gobi™ mobile broadband, the Toughbook H2 mobile computer increases efficiency and productivity for officers in the field—and in doing so, increases safety, said King.

The Toughbook H2 is mounted with the Panasonic Personal Display Removable Computer (PDRC) keyboard to double as a mobile digital computer (MDC) and handheld, allowing officers to undock the device and quickly complete mobile reporting tasks right at the point of interaction with motorists, without having to return to their cruisers to input data into in-vehicle systems.

"Not only did the H2 give us all the benefits of mobile reporting, it gives us the officer safety element," King said. "It speeds up data collection so officers are not on the roadside as long. Every single minute we can shave off is a huge safety benefit."

Mobile electronic reporting has also enabled higher data quality, resulting in significant time savings and greater efficiency throughout the department. Since using electronic reporting, the department has reduced its data error rate on demographics forms to less than 2 percent. No longer are staff members within the department records unit and/or court clerks required to input data from the officers' handwritten forms. And with the Toughbook H2 device's built-in camera, officers can snap quick photos of suspects that are included in their notes—virtually eliminating the ID hearings prior to going to court.

The Toughbook H2 tablet PCs are built to be handheld, with molded ergonomic handles built into each device. This means officers can carry the device with them on roadside stops, ultimately helping them to do their jobs more effectively.

"If you have to go back to the in-vehicle mounted system, you lose contact with the driver and potentially critical clues of other criminal activity," King said. "By going mobile you retain face time and the ability to potentially assess whether a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol."

“Not only did the H2 give us all the benefits of mobile reporting, it gives us the officer safety element. It speeds up data collection so officers are not on the roadside as long. Every single minute we can shave off is a huge safety benefit.”
- Capt. Jeff King, Arizona DPS

The rugged design of Toughbook computers also comes in handy for DPS officers, with the Toughbook H2 PC built to meet IP65 and MIL-STD-810G certifications including a six-foot drop rating, a sealed all-weather design and a magnesium alloy chassis encased in polycarbonate. In fact, each device undergoes more than 500 checks and tests before, during, and after production to ensure it lives up to its name. So just how rugged are they? King said his officers created their own "tests" just to see how much abuse the devices could really take, and were very happy with the results.

"We've put our Toughbook computers through a lot in the field, looking to see what the limitations of the devices are," he said. "We left it in a car where temperatures hit 150 degrees. We've dropped them, and short of being struck by a large truck, haven't had any unexpected issues yet."

Panasonic engineers helped the department's IT staff set up its system, and ensured that the department's equipment worked seamlessly not just with other pieces of hardware, but with the software as well. Since then, Panasonic has always been a reliable partner throughout the deployment process, King said.

"The innovation is always there, and the willingness to make things work," he said.

For officers such as those from the Arizona DPS Highway Patrol Division, efficiency isn't just a business advantage, it's a safety imperative. By deploying Toughbook H2 handheld tablet PCs, the division has allowed its officers to accomplish mobile reporting and other tasks quickly and easily, right at the point of interaction with motorists, allowing for a thorough and complete traffic stop, ultimately saving time and, potentially, lives.

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