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All-in-one Tablet Device Saves Engineering Firms Thousands of Dollars

In 1999, Scott Deaton was finishing his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech where the goal of his research was focused on improving the process of assessing damage after an earthquake. Scott said, “It was a human driven, paper-based process where people were manually documenting the damage, but digitally recording position with handheld GPS and taking photographs with digital cameras.” Compiling data from multiple teams required months of work following an earthquake and usually had varying levels of data reliability and quality because lack of standardization of terminology and formats. The research project developed a PDA-based data collection and GIS based visualization system that standardized and organized damage terminology, and integrated the GPS location and photographs all from the field. The new data collection method completely eliminated the manual compilation and post processing of the data.

Near the end of Scott’s research, the NSF sponsored he and his advisor, David Frost, to modify the system and deploy a team to assess the damage to buildings surrounding the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 terrorist attack. Scott said, “As we presented our findings to our geotechnical and geoenvironmental colleagues, we realized the need for our type of business, and thus Dataforensics was founded”.

DataforensicsDataforensics is a leader in developing and deploying geotechnical and geoenvironmental software applications which enable geologists, geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineers to accomplish field and office work in less time, while improving the accuracy and reliability of the data.

Dataforensics created a proprietary software program that ran on PDAs and Windows Tablets to allow users to capture all data for geotechnical and environmental site investigations and environmental sampling projects. The software is extremely flexible and customizable by the end-user while facilitating the standardization that helps improve the data collection process.

Scott added, “In the past, there was not a single device that allowed you to record field data, take pictures and locate it (via GPS) while having enough battery life to get through a full days work. The early units on the market did not satisfy the criteria of being rugged or economical, or they had operating systems and screen sizes that limited the capabilities of the software.” 

After working nearly a decade on the PDA-based software and six versions it was very robust but it was limited by the hardware and technology. Dataforensics realized that the software needed the perfect all-in-one mobile device to package the solution for their customers. 

At the same time, Panasonic Systems Communication Company launched the Toughpad FZ-A1. The FZ-A1 is a fully rugged tablet device running on an Android Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1 and pLogplatform. Scott said, “We received a mailer from ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) highlighting a preferred partnership and pricing with DataSource Mobility, specifically for Panasonic products. We reached out to DataSource Mobility to discuss products and pricing and we immediately knew that DataSource Mobility wanted more than just a sale. They expressed an interest in developing a partnership with us, to support us for the long term. That’s exactly the type of partner we were looking for”.

Dataforensics needed an all-in-one device boasting;

  • Long battery life, 11-12 hours
  • Hi-resolution camera
  • Accurate GPS
  • Fully rugged tablet device

DataSource Mobility provided Dataforensics with a Toughpad FZ-A1 demo, as part of their “Touch & Try” program, so that Dataforensics could execute a pilot program and test their software solution on the device. “We’ve been waiting for this device for 13 years. We are now able to offer our customers a complete solution to capture data from the field in real-time. The Toughpad has allowed us to do more than we could ever do before. It has drastically reduced the complexity of the application because we now have more flexibility in design. With Wi-Fi and/or 3G/4G connectivity, everything syncs to the cloud. In the past, customers had to install three or four software packages to get the data off the PDA and into software on their PC’s.  The new hardware and software capabilities reduces IT resources necessary to deploy the system. Customers can easily pull down the data and drop it into their PC-based applications,” added Scott.

The Dataforensics software, has exponentially improved operations for customers. A typical drilling project of a 30-40’ hole requires approximately 30 minutes of data entry and QC review time, totaling one (1) hour of processing time. The blended hourly billing rate for this type of work is $65 (for a clerical person and an engineer or geologist). One client has drilled approximately 1,300 holes on a single project, amounting to approximately $80,000 personnel costs. Dataforensics’ total solution virtually alleviates much of these expenses resulting in at least $45,000 in cost savings.

Scott concluded; “Thanks to our partnership with DataSource Mobility we are now able to provide our customers with a turn-key solution that doesn’t require an installation process. It’s easier to input the data, which has decreased field time and increased cost savings. This is a win-win for everyone.”

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