3 questions firefighters and fire management should ask about a rugged tablet

Juniper Systems has put together a list of three questions firefighters and fire management professionals should be asking to get the best rugged tablet on the market. In this article, users can learn about display factors, battery-life, and rugged tablet capabilities in extreme environments. Discover the many benefits of asking these three questions.

Firefighters in the field
Firefighters going up against a fire

1. Is the display sunlight-readable, and how can I know it is?

It is not uncommon for wildfire firefighters to be in the sun for extended periods. Wildland firefighters, in particular, are often in environments with minimal canopy and excessive light. This type of environment creates screen glare and eye fatigue. A sunlight-readable display is a necessary feature when designing a rugged tablet for firefighters and management.

The Mesa® Rugged Tablet was designed to address this need. The tablet’s display is designed with cover glass, touchscreen, and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) optically bonded with a clear adhesive. This laminated screen reduces the reflection of oncoming light and amplifies the clarity of the display for users.

Optically bonded display example

In addition to a sunlight-readable display, the Mesa screen is engineered to avoid the common problems of heat production in a tablet. For example, when the screen of any tablet is not optimized to battle screen glare effectively, the tablet could heat up and lead to the processor running at a slower speed. Mesa users can confidently bring the screen to maximum brightness without the fear of the device running at a slower rate to combat heat protection or shutting down.

Firefighters and management need to be aware of the potential trade-offs to get a sunlight-readable screen. The experts of Juniper Systems have put together a list of four display factors to consider. These display factors help users understand what to look for in a tablet for outdoor work.

2. What is the battery life for a rugged tablet in the field?

Another important aspect to consider for the brave men and women combating these fires is battery life. Since wildland Firefighters often find themselves in the field for extended hours, days, and even weeks at a time, battery life is an essential feature. Providing users with a reliable device that can last for extended periods in remote areas is what the Juniper team does best.

When the Mesa was first being designed, the engineers considered multiple situations users could find themselves in while using this rugged tablet. The circumstances of field users can be diverse. The battery of a rugged tablet being used by those in the fire industry will need to withstand extreme temperatures and operate for extended periods. The best rugged tablets also have hot-swapping capabilities.

The Mesa 3 Rugged Tablet with hot-swapping batteries

Each of these features are essential for those working in the field to protect the environment. It is important to look at the total number of hours the device can run under one charge. Understanding whether or not the tablet has a removable battery for hot-swapping can greatly impact a workday for the better. The charging time for a rugged tablet also needs to be taken under consideration.

The Mesa Rugged Tablet is a prime example of the best tablet to be used in the field. Rated for operation between negative 4° F to 122° F (negative 20° C to 50° C), the Mesa is equipped to handle the extreme environments users find themselves in. Having a powerful 10-hour battery and an optional internal battery for an additional 4-5 hours of runtime is exceptional.

Casey Britton from Fusion Technologies shared the following about McElroy’s DataLogger® 7 based on the Mesa 3 running Android™, “We are seeing devices running a solid 14-15 hours on a single charge running multiple applications during that time. What’s so valuable is that we can hot-swap. The convenience of hot-swapping batteries coupled with all-day battery life really stands out.”  

3. What are the mapping capabilities of this device?

For firefighters and management, having a responsive and long-lasting tablet to communicate information in a timely manner is critical. An essential piece of the puzzle in finding an effective, rugged tablet for remote areas is understanding the mapping capabilities of the device. In most cases, firefighters use AVENZA maps.

AVENZA is a mapping software that helps firefighters get the perimeter of a fire mapped. This software, combined with a rugged tablet with a built-in GPS, can significantly improve the workflow in mapping fires. The Mesa running Android will fit right in with the AVENZA mapping software and other existing agency-specific software.

The Mesa rugged tablet with the AVENZA mapping software and Uinta mapping and data collection software running.
The AVENZA mapping software being used on the Mesa rugged tablet

Firefighters and agencies can save time as they continue to utilize their mapping software with the Mesa Rugged Tablet. There will be no need to spend time learning a new way of mapping when time is of the essence to communicate between those in the air, on the ground, and at the office. Users can trust and rely on this hardware to complete the job in a timely and effective manner. A built in GPS and the capability to work with a sub-meter GPS receiver opens up new opportunities for managing fires with the Mesa and Geode™ Sub-meter GPS Receiver.

Choosing a rugged tablet

Asking these three questions can make all the difference in the world for users with a demand for effective and efficient hardware. The specifications, features, and various acronyms typically accompanying rugged equipment can be difficult to comprehend. A comprehensive outline of these common specifications is explained by the experts at Juniper. To discuss any additional questions or information needed to gain confidence in purchasing a rugged tablet, our experts are more than happy to be contacted.

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