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One-Stop, One-Step data COLLECTION FOR CITIES

Public Works employees use rugged Nautiz handhelds to improve data collection efficiency.

Challenge

Streamline in-the-field tasks, reduce time spent on data entry and create comprehensive information packages that integrate with central databases – improving cost- and time-efficiency. 

Solution

A package including the feature-rich Nautiz X7 rugged handheld from Handheld and customizable Atlas360 process software from LogicConcepts. 

Result

Municipal field workers collect detailed data at locations across the city, and transmit it wirelessly back to a central computer system, eliminating several steps and keeping all associated information in one place.

Municipal workers are using the Nautiz X7 rugged handheld computer with Atlas360 software to streamline field tasks, eliminate paperwork and integrate information 

Anyone who’s ever worked with data collection knows this truth: Information is only as good as what you can do with it. In a municipal budget climate where time and cost efficiencies are more critical than ever, anything that streamlines work tasks is of great value. That’s why the combination of a rugged Nautiz X7 handheld computer from Handheld and the versatile Atlas360 software program from LogicConcepts is revolutionizing data-collection processes for cities: Not only can workers gather more information more efficiently – the city can do much more with it. 

Typically, public works employees patrol a city, looking for infractions or problems, surveying municipal assets, and gathering data on multiple topics. Much of this is done by hand, on paper. Then all the information has to be entered into a central database – a time-consuming process that takes workers away from their field tasks. “It used to be workers would have to sit down and use a keypad to type all the information in,” says Mack McCarter of LogicConcepts. “That’s kind of a headache. People just want to be able to press one thing and move on.” 

And that’s what a Nautiz X7 with built-in Atlas360 functionality does. It takes advantage of mobile technology and communication capabilities to enable a broad range of public works tasks to be handled end-to-end directly from the field, eliminating data entry and integrating into one smooth process. 

Consider the example of a bylaw infraction – a sidewalk assessment, where a resident has reported a large and dangerous crack in the walk in front of a neighbor’s house. With most current systems, a city field worker must go to the site, write down the specific address, take notes on the nature of the problem, add a detailed description of the necessary remedy, and take a photo for evidence. Later the worker will have to enter all that information into the city’s computer system separately – and maybe even have to drive back to the site to deliver an infraction notice. The Nautiz X7/Atlas360 package accomplishes all those steps – on the spot, in several minutes – thanks to its advanced technology elements. 

In this case, it starts with the Nautiz X7 rugged handheld from Handheld’s US-office in Corvallis, Oregon, a respected provider of mobile technology that has paired with LogicConcepts on multiple solutions. “Our software can go on a host of different hardware,” McCarter says, “but we prefer to partner with Handheld. After trying other hardware in the field in the past, now we go with Handheld, because they offer the best product.” 

The Nautiz X7 has everything a typical municipality needs to streamline field processes. It’s a rugged, easy-to-operate handheld tool with an impressive array of functionality and performance. The Nautiz X7 has integrated GPS, an autofocus 3-MP flash camera, voice-note capability, a non-reflecting touchscreen and a battery life of 12 hours. Plus, it’s rugged enough for field work – it’s impervious to dust and water, it can withstand repeated drops, it operates in temperatures up to 140° F (60° C), and it comes with a three-year warranty. 

When the Nautiz X7 comes loaded with LogicConcepts’ Atlas360, it’s the perfect tool for municipal work. The software can easily be programmed with a comprehensive information set, including street addresses, the name of the homeowner at each address, city code information and more. In addition, the user interface is customizable depending on the task. Separate forms can be created for each task, with a simple series of questions and corresponding “answer buttons” for a worker to push on the touchscreen, plus an onscreen keypad for entering more detailed information. “The city department knows the right questions to ask, based on what they need to know,” McCarter says. “We create a process that lets a field worker gather that data easily and consistently, using a simple button-level approach.” 

Using the handheld tool, the worker can mark a location with GPS accuracy, note the type of infraction, cite the related code if needed, take an associated picture with a date stamp and location data, and include a description of how to remedy the situation. A resident can even sign a citation, using the Nautiz X7 touchscreen. An option in the works will use the Nautiz X7’s BT capability to transmit information directly to a portable printer, producing a door-hanger on the spot that can be left to inform an owner who’s not home about the problem.

Using the Nautiz X7’s built-in Wi-Fi functionality, at the end of the shift the field worker uploads the day’s data, including photos, to the city’s database and used in its GIS system with one touch of a button. From there the data can be incorporated into maps that show data points. “If you click on a particular point, it will show the description of the violation and give you a time and date stamp, as well as the photo documenting the problem,” McCarter says. 

The Nautiz X7 can also interface with spreadsheets, making assessments such as the previous sidewalk example much easier. McCarter explains: “If you have, for example, a three-foot by five-foot (100x150 cm) slab that needs to be removed, that information can be placed in the spreadsheet and it can identify that slab, indicate the materials associated with the task, calculate the labor it will take… and all that can be moved into a work-order system.” 

Once a municipality starts using this solution for one task, it’s not long before they start seeing countless other applications for it. Cities can use the Nautiz X7/Atlas360 combination for a broad range of data-collection projects, including enforcing snow-removal laws, reporting fire-safety hazards, tracking garbage and recycling collection, monitoring airport perimeters, scheduling maintenance for city-owned assets – the possibilities are nearly endless. “People see this solution and the wheels start turning,” says McCarter. “They see that they push this button and it tracks this thing, and they start thinking, ‘How does this apply to other tasks? We could make this button do that…’”