Mobile technology toughs it out in Aussie park

When it comes to mobility, most organizations see usage of notebooks at home, airports or conferences. But for horticulturists and arborists at Sydney's Centennial Parklands their mobile technology needs to withstand constantly changing terrain.

Staff cover 340 hectares of Sydney parkland and move from open spaces, wetlands, sandstone hills to busy urban areas, so working demands are varied.

Centennial Parklands director of park assets, Ian Innes, said staff need notebooks that can be thrown into the back of a truck.

"They get a good workout and are used for long hours at a time so they have to be durable," Innes said.

As a result, Parklands has just invested in Panasoinic C-18 Toughbooks which have a full, magnesium-alloy case, sealed port and connector covers and ruggedized case.

The Toughbook has been tested to military standards for drop shock and vibration absorption, as well as liquid, dust and dirt ingress in extreme environments.

Innes said the organization is converting ongoing information management tasks to the notebooks.

"We rely on the GPS system housed on the notebook to locate most of our natural flora and fauna we are monitoring; this is good for new staff or contractors who aren't as familiar with the areas," he said.

Parklands will need to replace 60 percent of its tree population over the next 50 to 60 years, the equivalent of about 250 to 300 trees a year.

The notebooks, which are used to assess and monitor tree growth, also have a water-resistant keyboard and LCD screen.

"We have to forward-order trees to ensure they grow to the right height, shape and population to be introduced into the parkland. The notebooks are used to monitor changes in our tree population and to record health, growth and life expectancies," Innes said.

Centennial Parklands regularly undertakes diverse, location-based tracking of its entire tree population, which covers around 15,000 across 19 agencies.

Parklands also implements ongoing health assessments across a broad range of flora and fauna, which is recorded on the notebook and fed back into the database at the administration center for evaluation.

This story, "Mobile technology toughs it out in Aussie park" was originally published by Computerworld Australia.

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