Rugged Mobile Equipment And Customizable Software Win Sale
This integrator succeeds
by providing a software solution that is workable on any handheld or PC
a customer uses.
Turbo Data Systems, Inc., an integrator based in Tustin, CA, provides software solutions to municipalities and universities for processing parking citations. The company purchases hardware devices, integrates and bundles the hardware with its software, and sells the total solution.
Turbo Data Systems responded to an RFP from the City of San Jose Department of Transportation. Most government agencies request solutions via an RFP and use a qualification process to select the lowest bidders that can adhere to defined specifications. “We came in as the lowest bidder competing against eight companies that met the proposal requirements,” states Elie Sleiman, vice president and CTO at Turbo Data Systems. “We were required to present our solution and meet the specific criteria set by the municipality to move forward with the sale.”
The municipality manages operations for parking enforcement. This includes managing metered lots, monitoring street parking within city limits, and citing violators of parking regulations. The municipality previously used handheld PCs, which allowed officers to write tickets and print citations; however, reliability issues and the lack of features and flexibility caused it to seek another solution. At the end of shifts, each officer had to synchronize his or her handheld to the PC in the office via a cradle, wait for all officers to do the same, batch officer data together, and send the data to the server. This process was time-consuming for the officers prior to and after each shift, resulting in time away from issuing tickets in the field. The equipment also had a short battery life, which sometimes resulted in the loss of data.
The solution proposed by Turbo Data Systems included Hand Held Products’ Dolphin 9500 mobile computer, the O’Neil 4T mobile printer, and the VAR’s software solution, called ticketPRO. The municipality required each qualifying vendor to provide two of each proposed device to be used in a physical ruggedness test. Each printer and handheld PC had to withstand a drop from a height of 5 feet onto cement five consecutive times; testing was performed on each unit between drops to ensure operability of both devices. The equipment selected by Turbo Data Systems successfully passed all ruggedness tests.
The software, ticketPRO, developed by Turbo Data Systems, allows the municipality to take advantage of wireless printing and wireless synchronization of data at the end of each shift. The wireless printing of citation notices is an improvement over the old solution, which required the handheld to be pointed towards the printer to communicate using infrared technology. This communications sometimes failed, resulting in connection via cable.
With the new system, data is batched wirelessly as the officers enter headquarters, then it is sent to Turbo Data Systems for processing. The cradle for each handheld is used for charging purposes only. The software allows officers to write tickets, and within an hour of a shift’s end, violators can pay the ticket via phone, mail, or Web site, versus the 24-hour delay experienced with the old system. The installation occurred in two phases, with one-half of the officers in each phase. “We held multiple training sessions on the product and the intuitive software interface,” states Sleiman. “We provided hands-on training by taking the officers to the field to ensure comfort with the solution.”
Double Your Install Base With Customizable
Turbo Data Systems plans to deploy an additional 10 units for San Jose’s Department of Transportation as the operation grows. In addition, Turbo Data Systems has installed this software for four other customers using several different hardware devices.
“We’ve doubled our install base by using ticketPRO on any hardware our customers choose,” says Sleiman. “The key is the software flexibility, which allows customers to choose the hardware that fits their needs. Each customer can select a handheld based on weight, size, and features. We install and customize the software based on the features available with the chosen hardware and deliver the entire solution to our customers.” Additionally, customers can use handheld PCs with scanners and software to scan the bar codes from vehicle identification numbers on vehicles, permits, or meters, reducing data entry time and increasing accuracy. A photograph of the vehicle in violation can be taken and used as evidence, if the handheld PC chosen includes this feature.