January 24, 2012

Rough-and-ready handheld takes on wilderness duties

U.S. Forest Service selects a ruggedized mobile computer for data collection in the great outdoors.

By DC Velocity Staff

Think your handhelds operate in rugged conditions? Data collection in refrigerated warehouses and waterfront container terminals is a piece of cake compared to where the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) gathers information. The agency often conducts data collection activities—from sampling timber and seedlings to surveying streams and wildlife—in demanding environments and remote locations that can be hundreds of miles from the nearest repair technician.

When the Forest Service needed a reliable data collection device that could stand up to the elements, it chose a specially modified version of Psion's compact Workabout Pro 3 handheld computer. The USFS has the option to order the devices under the terms of a five-year blanket purchase agreement with Psion partner Handheld Systems Inc.

To meet the Forest Service's stringent requirements, Handheld Systems modified the Workabout Pro 3 to achieve the IP67 standard for water resistance required by the agency.

As part of the USFS's evaluation process, the devices were tested at the Missoula (Mont.) Technology and Development Center, a division of the Forest Service that's responsible for testing equipment for federal and state agencies. No word on whether the evaluation included testing for resistance to mosquitoes, gnawing rodents, and grizzly bears.

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