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Tougher Than a Day at the Office eZine Insights

Tougher Than a Day at the Office eZine Insights

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Published by Motorola Solutions
The surprisingly impressive economics of ruggedized equipment and technology from Motorola. Long-term savings in dependable, reliable equipment.
The surprisingly impressive economics of ruggedized equipment and technology from Motorola. Long-term savings in dependable, reliable equipment.

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Published by: Motorola Solutions on Nov 10, 2010
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11/15/2010

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INSIGHTS
- Tougher Than a Day at the Ofce
MOTOROLA eZine Insights Article
THE SURPRISINGLY IMPRESSIVE ECONOMICSOF RUGGEDIZED EQUIPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY
There’s not an organization on the ace o this earth that’s immune to the eects o the difcult global economy.What’s true or businesses and enterprises is just as true or government agencies and departments. Evenmunicipal public saety operations whose mission is saving lives and protecting people and property are acedwith declining budgets. Most police and fre chies understand the important reliability and saety benefts ousing ruggedized equipment to provide real-time communications under the harshest o feld and ront-lineenvironments. All too oten, however, they are conronted with budget constraints that are orcing them toconsider reducing the size o their orces. Many are struggling with a particularly thorny dilemma: “How canwe justiy spending additional unds on ruggedized equipment when we could buy less expensive non-ruggedequipment and use the money we save to save jobs?”There are many reasons why public saety proessionals preer using ruggedized wireless equipment insteado commercial-grade equipment. They’re not hard to imagine. Ice and below zero temperatures at a warehousefre in mid-winter. Meltingly hot direct summer sunlight on a rootop stakeout. Driving sleet and rain at an activecrime scene investigation. Salt and spray on marine surveillance or patrol. Hundred-degree-plus temperatures ontrafc control duty. Wind-driven ames anning a raging brush fre.Police, fre, emergency medical personnel and other saety proessionals have to endure hazardous weather andenvironmental conditions like these all the time. It’s just part o their job. “Actually, not only do frst respondershave to stand up to harsh conditions,” says Anatoly Delm, product marketing manager at Motorola, “so do theirwireless communications devices and equipment. It’s just part o their job.” The question is, is commercial-grade, non-rugged equipment up to the job?
TOUGHER THAN ADAY AT THE OFFICE
 
TOUGHER THAN A DAY AT THE OFFICE
Does commercial-grade equipment such as laptop computers and PDAs have a place in public saety? Ocourse. It’s just that their place is in the ofce. That’s what they were made or, and that’s where they belong.A tough day at the ofce or a typical laptop computer involves crunching numbers, not being crunched by asnaking fre hose. A PDAs keyboard that works well in a conerence room doesn’t usually work so well in ablizzard.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUTPURCHASE PRICE
When budgets are shrinking public saetydepartments are oten aced with some very toughchoices. “It’s tempting to walk into a consumerelectronics store and purchase a bunch o laptopsor under $1,000 apiece, and some PDAs or about$500 each,” Delm admits. Ruggedized computersand handheld devices can easily cost three or ourtimes that much or even more. That’s when it’simportant to remember the most ancient o clichés,“you get what you pay or.” Nowhere is thataphorism more relevant than in public saety andother government ront-line and feld applications.“The truth is, the real cost dierential betweencommercial-grade and ruggedized devices canonly be discerned over time,” says Delm. MostIT proessionals understand the idea o “totalcost o ownership,” or TCO. This is a conceptthat examines cost variables including purchaseprice, support and maintenance costs, repair andreplacement costs and loss-o-productivity due toailure costs over a period o about fve years.
FIVE-YEAR TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP
There have been a number o research studies examining the TCO o commercial-grade versus ruggedizedequipment in the public saety sector. In a 2007 study by VDC Research Group, the cost dierentials over afve-year span proved to be substantial. In the same study, a ruggedized handheld device cost approximately$23,500 to buy, support, and operate over fve years, while a commercial-grade PDA cost over $10,000 more.These numbers show the substantial longer-term economic benefts o purchasing ully rugged equipmentversus commercial-grade units. Although the initial purchase price o ofce-grade equipment wasconsiderably lower, over the fve-year time rame, the ruggedized equipment delivered a savings o about$2,000 per unit per year.
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INSIGHTS
- Tougher Than a Day at the Ofce
“In the eld and on the front lines, equipment made for the ofce is seriously out of itselement,” notes Delm. “Unfortunately, when crucial communications are interrupted byfailing equipment, the consequences can be devastating in terms of lives and propertyplaced in serious danger.”
 
THE HIGH COST OF FAILURE
To the untrained eye, these cost dierences may appear counter-intuitive. It’s not hard to see, though, thatthe reason or the dierential is relatively simple. As Delm says, “The purchase price o a computer is muchless important than the cost to keep it in service over time.” The act is, commercial-grade computers anddevices ail more oten than rugged devices. According to the VDC report, non-rugged computers have anannual ailure rate o about 33 percent. That means in any single year, one out o three commercial-gradecomputers will require some kind o costly repair, such as replacement o a hard drive or power supply. Incontrast, ully rugged computers have an annual ailure rate o only about nine percent.That’s a big dierence, but it’s only the beginning o cost and productivity issues, particularly in mission-critical applications. Too oten, commercial quality devices ail while in use in the feld. When that happenson the ront lines, not only are communications, data and productivity lost, but lives can be endangered.
BEYOND POLICE AND FIRE USAGE
O course, public saety applications aren’t the only ways municipalities and governments use ruggedizedequipment in feld operations. A great many other proessionals and workers use wireless mobilecommunications technologies to make their jobs easier and more productive, oten in environments asdifcult as those aced by frst responders.Examples are many and varied. Street andsanitation workers need to be in constantcommunications in situations ranging rom clearingstreets during and ater major storms to repairingpotholes to minimizing damage ater a tough wintero uctuating temperatures. Trafc controllersneed to be in real-time communications as they tryto break up major trafc jams or clear accidents.Building inspectors need to be able to downloadblueprints and oor plans in real-time to increaseproductivity. Parking and trafc enorcement needto download meter violations and trafc citationsinto the system instantaneously. Social workersneed real-time communications to help ensure theirsaety and productivity as they make their rounds inhigh-risk areas. And the list goes on.Just as their counterparts in public saety do,these proessionals depend on reliable ruggedizedwireless equipment that will not ail the moment asituation turns difcult due to changing weather orother conditions.
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INSIGHTS
- Tougher Than a Day at the Ofce
“For ruggedized equipment,” Delm summarizes, “the benets of greater reliability includenot only substantially lower repair costs, but also increased savings in time, productivity andproperty, personnel and public safety.”

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