FiedTec on Thursday announced the release of CONNECT, a comprehensive solution for providing workers out in the field support from their home office. The Australian company, based in Melbourne, develops software solutions for field worker management.
The firm developed FOCUS, a system for capturing data on work performed at a site and sending it to a home office to help management make real-time decisions and better assist customers.
CONNECT is a mobile computer installed inside a field crew vehicle that is always turned on to provide real-time information to management. It serves as a FOCUS client and communications hub between a crew and the office, provides automatic vehicle location (AVL) and is durable enough to withstand the punishment to which many field operations subject their equipment.
Several peripheral devices providing additional features to field workers can be added to a CONNECT installation. Touchscreens in either 7” or 10” sizes make it easy to retrieve emails and access the Internet.
An aerial securely mounted to the vehicle provides 3G wireless communication and Internet service.
Video cameras are also supported by CONNECT installations, providing security for field workers and equipment, as well as video to an office-based monitoring station. When combined with the AVL technology, management knows the exact location the video is captured from.
CONNECT also supports microphones, speakers and VOIP handsets, giving crews additional communications capability. They can make calls through Skype or setup the unit as an extension on an office phone system.
GPS hardware combined with Google Maps helps crews determine the most efficient route to a job site, or between multiple job sites in a workday.
While the rich set of features and convenience that CONNECT provides are undeniable, several questions emerge about alternatives and the feasibility of using CONNECT in other field operations.
The technology to put together all the components of a CONNECT solution has been around a while, though perhaps not on a widespread basis or as a complete package.
Are companies that do field work better off buying their own components and putting together their own system? Would a CONNECT solution designed for smaller or even single user field environments be feasible?
It’s conceivable that companies that make deliveries or service calls with a single driver would find ‘CONNECT-lite’ a useful product.
CONNECT allows a field crew to set up what in many ways is like a command post at a site. One has to wonder if a more secure version of CONNECT be set up for law enforcement, emergency or military operations.
Do the real-time communications and video and other features make CONNECT practical for a typical transit system? Crime and safety are a big concern on many routes that transit vehicles cover. A real-time monitoring system for such operations would likely make them much safer and capture video and audio for law enforcement when needed.
CONNECT is a solution that is rich with features and will make sense for companies already using FieldTec’s FOCUS software. The questions that remain are whether or not CONNECT is better than other alternatives, and if FieldTec is expanding its field operations management to other types of operations.
Edited by Braden Becker