Typically, when speaking about emergency services and mobile computing, the discussion quickly turns to ePCR software, or CAD, or ICS. The fact of the matter however, is that mobile apps can serve first responders in a number of ways, and often beyond what your initial expectations might be.
Let’s consider some uses of the iPad by first responders, in non-traditional functions. You may find something of interest here:
There are a lot of document reading apps, such as those that allow you to store and read a PDF file. The iPad is far more than a document reader, however. It’s a terrific solution for the creation of, management of, and execution of documents. Fill out the form, sign the form, and transmit the form. How many fire inspectors would like that kind of on the go mobility? Lots.
There are a number of super apps for displaying and annotating PDF, DOC and text files. One of the most popular is GoodReader for iPad, which is $4.99 but acts as not just a document viewer (for virtually any document type), but also as a fully-formed file manager.
For users who want an app for viewing, annotating and emailing PDF files, PDF Reader Pro is fast and gets the job done for just $0.99.
Several fire agencies we work with use the iPad is in-lieu of a fax machine or scanner. Inspectors and officers, not to mention administrators frequently receive forms via email with a request to send them back signed. But, do you want to be chained to a desk with an out of date PC in a box and a hard copy printer and fax machine? Fortunately, thanks to apps like EasySign, you may email a document, image or PDF to a special address and then affix a signature (either using one you have saved or signing the document on the spot). EasySign also lets users designate their own text fields for adding dates, name and address information, check boxes and more. The resulting PDF can then be emailed back to yourself or to someone else.
EasySign is free for the first three documents, and bundles of documents (in packs of 3, 5, 10 and 20) can be purchased within the app.
If you’re collecting fees – permits, and so on, the iPad is a terrific collection device. Even small companies such as Square are turning the mobile payments space inside out, thanks to free or inexpensive card readers that turn an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad into a full credit card terminal. And, using apps from Square, Intuit GoPayment, VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile and others, first responders can quickly sell merchandise for donation programs, permits for brush or events, payment for ambulance transport, and many other options.
Even before the iPad 2, the iPad was a useful tool to use for video conferencing, thanks to apps like WebEx and GoToMeeting. These apps make taking part in web meetings fast and easy. Now that the NEW iPad is out and it has front and rear facing cameras, first responders can connect with other users using FaceTime and other video chat apps. Imagine having that Chief’s or Captain’s meeting electronically, rather than putting “actors” in place and moving people and apparatus all over your city or county.
This is getting pretty exciting – and most importantly, useful.