Chemical stockpile program purchases 51 TDS Recons for real-time communication in emergencies and finds a wide range of other day-to-day uses.

Tripod Data Systems (TDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Trimble, sold 51 of its rugged TDS Recon(TM) handheld computers to Morrow County, Oregon's Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP). The Recons were purchased for use by emergency personnel in the case of a hazardous chemical release.

CSEPP was formed to protect the public and the environment in potential emergency situations related to the chemical stockpile, located in a lightly populated portion of northeast Oregon. In an emergency the Recon, which runs Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PCs, allows first responders in the field to obtain real-time information from the central command center, including plume maps, injury reports, response plan details and locations of people in need of help. At the same time, the Recon's two-way communication and GPS functions let the central command center know where the response personnel are in the field.

"Multiple responders in the field all need the answer to 'what do I do?' in real time," said Casey Beard, director of Morrow County Emergency Management, who oversees CSEPP. "The Recon helps them with a lot of things in the course of a response-determining what type of release, where the plume is headed, where responders are needed. They can access a response checklist that's in the palm of their hands, not in a three-ring binder. They can even send us real-time update reports using their Recons." Of course, CSEPP bought their Recons with the hope of never having to use them in a real emergency. But in order to make sure responders are familiar with their Recons if they ever do need to use them under duress, the program has looked for ways their users-many of them in fire, police and public works positions-can put the Recons to use for day-to-day tasks. They've subsequently found a wide range of uses. They optimized the Recons for four uses: law enforcement, emergency medical services, public works and fire services.

The Recon is designed for all-day operation in extreme outdoor and industrial environments. It meets MIL-STD-810F military standard for drops, vibration and temperature extremes. It also comes with an IP67 rating, meaning it's immersible in water and impenetrable to dust. The Recon's rugged construction makes it ideal for land surveying, mapping, civil engineering and construction, forestry, utility, facilities and asset management, machine control, law enforcement and military applications. It weighs 17 ounces, and its rounded edges provide a comfortable grip. Large, widely spaced buttons are easy to use, and its reflective color TFT display is bright and clear in sunlight.

The Recon comes with a 200- or 400-MHz Intel XScale processor, 64 MB of SDRAM and up to 128 MB of internal nonvolatile Flash storage. It also features two CompactFlash slots, plus a standard 9-pin serial port and a high-speed USB port for connecting to a PC. The standard PowerBoot ModuleT features a 15-hour rechargeable NiMH battery.

Source: TDS, Jan. 20, 2004