At the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Ga., event vendors now have a new way to connect to the Internet. Using the Rocket from Utility, the city can provide them with a wireless mobile hotspot so they can conduct retail business from anywhere within the expansive 1,400 acre grounds.
But the primary motivation for the city of Conyers’ purchase was to improve the connectivity and field productivity of its police force, explains Christopher J. Fisher, MsCIs, information technology director.
“We’re able to keep more officers out there doing what they need to be doing — patrolling and keeping the city safe rather than having to come back to the office to write reports. They can do all that from the car now, so they really have a true mobile office,” Fisher explains.
Conyers purchased a total of 59 Rocket mobile gateway units, made by Utility, a mobile resource management company based in nearby Tucker, Ga. Full deployment was complete in February 2010.
Police officers benefit from these mobile units’ fast, secure broadband Internet and wireless connectivity. The Rocket boosts the reach of cellular coverage, providing rapid access to information. Conyers field inspectors and code enforcement officers have added mobile capabilities too, thanks to the Rockets.
Before equipping its police vehicles with Rockets, officers in the field accessed public safety software over radio airwaves — an unreliable connection that severely limited their field capabilities. “They were just basically able to get calls and that was it,” Fisher notes.
Conyers piloted several other options before choosing the Rockets. Air cards alone routinely lost connections in the city’s dead spots, requiring time-consuming rebooting once connectivity could be re-established. Mobile access routers improved speed in full coverage areas, but connectivity was still an issue when a signal was unavailable.
Fisher explains that the Rockets offer a roughly 80 percent improvement over their previous environment, citing the external antenna as helpful in boosting their signal for faster, more continuous connectivity. The fact that the units are wireless is a big plus, too, given their limited IT staff.
“The Rockets are much more convenient,” says Fisher. “It’s hard to run cable because of all the cages and equipment in the police cars. It’s easy to just drop the Rocket into place and connect it. It’s not a lot of fuss and setup — it’s basically plug and play. If we can streamline a device like that, it makes our lives a whole lot easier.”
Officers can now send and receive email, complete reports in the field and even use their Rocket-equipped vehicles as mobile command posts, since each unit can connect multiple devices. This feature is indispensable when officers are called to assist with emergency response.
The Rocket’s GPs features are integrated with Conyers’ CAD system, which maps calls and tracks police vehicles in the field, providing realtime data on department resources. The city also plans to deploy a citywide camera system that will align with the Rocket’s capabilities, allowing responders to focus resources on incidents more quickly.
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