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Use of Tablet Computers for Field and Lab Work

Project ID: 6816
Principal Investigator: Jessica Torrey
Research Topic: Condition Assessment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014
Keywords: tablet, app, corrosion testing, cathodic protection

Research Question

Can we bring tablet computers into our field and lab work? Can we configure them for convenience without violating any of the government computing regulations? Can we work with software developers to create Reclamation-specific applications for increased efficiency and functionality.

Need and Benefit

The portability and connectivity advantages of a tablet makes it much more suited for the kinds of lab and field work that will be the primary uses of this device than a laptop. Tablets are small enough and light enough to carry like a paper notebook and have the functionality to also replace a camera, calculator, and laptop. The battery life is much better that a laptop, it can be upwards of eight hours, and it's instant-on; this is essential for field work. The cellular connectivity of the iPad further increases productivity by giving instant access to the internet from both the lab (no wifi in Bldg. 56) and most field sites. All of the features in Bison Connect will be available including email, calendar, contacts, and Drive files. Maps and Google Earth will also be accessible from the field for locating test sites.

With increasing adoption of tablets in the workplace, there is an opportunity to create apps that would increase efficiency and productivity for Reclamation specific tasks. One in particular is cathodic protection system testing. This is a test that should be performed annually on CP systems in the field. Unfortunately, these tests are often neglected, in some cases due to lack of training of field personnel. This can result in systems running under or over powered for an extended period of time. A tablet app, designed specifically for CP testing and included in a training program from the TSC, would give field personnel a single reference for how to perform the test, exactly what data is needed, and instant analysis to proof the testing data. The app could also be designed to transmit the data to a database for comparison to previous year's results. We hope that by streamlining the testing process in such a way, cathodic protection system testing can be more efficient and easier for field offices to perform on a regular basis.

Research Products

This research will result in a report outlining the app development experience and with recommendations for other Reclamation tablet users who may want to develop custom apps. An iPad app for cathodic protection system field surveys will be released for public use.

This information was last updated on July 24, 2014
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