Magazine Article | April 19, 2011

Installation Review: Integration Expertise, Rugged Notebooks Land Utiity Client Mobile Computing Project

By Cindy Dubin, Business Solutions magazine.

Global shipments of tablet PCs are expected to increase nearly 200% to 55.7 million units this year, according to DisplaySearch, a market research company. In particular, the slate PC share of the overall mobile PC market, which includes notebooks and mininotes (netbooks), is expected to rise to nearly 35%, or 172.4 million units, by 2014. VARs catering to mobile workforces in need of these netbook/notebook solutions have several technology options available to them.

Panasonic Preferred Partner, DataSource Mobility, is a consulting services company that specializes in melding disparate systems into a single solution. The company’s focus on the mobile worker involves providing solutions to a variety of industries, from healthcare to power transmission. “Believe it or not, there are similarities between the two markets; both have field personnel who are being sent to fix a problem,” says Bill Presler, managing partner for DataSource Mobility. “Mobile notebooks can help get those folks to fix that problem as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

A quick and efficient mobility solution was what Cumberland Electric Membership Corp. (CEMC) needed. CEMC is a local electric co-op managing 7,000 linear miles and 2,000 square miles of territory. Linemen relied on their knowledge of the area to navigate technical issues within their service area. But, as the service area grew and the repairs became more sophisticated, a mobile computing solution was needed.

Mark Cook, supervisor of GIS (geographic information systems) and IT at CEMC, wanted a mobile computing solution that would provide real-time workflows and system maps to field teams and use GIS in the field for outage management and dispatching. The initial plan was to piece together a solution with an office-grade laptop, but that proved much more difficult. Executing the proper technology in the field required a solutions provider.