Jul 01 2020

Rugged Laptops Ready Agencies for Return to the Field

Federal users are being encouraged to regularly sanitize rugged devices as they return to work.

Rugged laptops and tablets, commonly used by employees who work in the field, can withstand the harshest conditions and most extreme environments. 

Now, as a wide range of federal employees prepare to return to field work, agency IT leaders need to ensure the devices are safe and sanitized to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Jean-Paul Velazquez, solution architect and senior adviser for customer solutions centers for Dell Technologies, says the company’s rugged laptop line is not only tough, it’s designed to be easy to sanitize and clean. The Dell line of rugged products, part of its Latitude series, can operate in temperatures as low as 20 degrees below zero and as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dell rugged products, such as the Dell Latitude 5424 and Latitude 7220 XFR, have been certified to withstand drops of up to six feet, and can be easily washed and disinfected. Velazquez adds that users should sanitize the devices with a disinfecting wipe regularly to keep them clean no matter when or where they are being used.

LEARN MORE: See what Dell can do for your federal agency’s technology needs. 

How to Keep Rugged Laptops Clean and Safe

Dell also recently released a sanitation and chemical solutions guide for its rugged products. Dell tests its rugged devices with sanitizing and chemical solutions to ensure Dell Latitude Rugged devices can withstand those solutions in the real world. Dell wants users to be able to operate the devices, germ-free, in healthcare environments and chemical- or food-processing environments.

As agencies continue to evolve their use cases for rugged laptops through and beyond the pandemic, they also can turn to Dell Government for guidance based on their current needs, objectives and strategies for operating in a changed environment. 

Dell’s customers can learn about and experiment with new technology solutions before deploying them in-house. The approach that Dell champions may be particularly useful as agency leaders seek to keep employees safe as they return to work. 

Velazquez says Dell is fielding questions about how to sanitize devices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Velazquez encouraged federal employees to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help keep themselves healthy as they return to the field.

In April, the Office of Management and Budget released guidelines to help agency heads and federal leaders make decisions about how to keep their workforce safer. Among other things, the guidelines call for a three-phase framework that follows federal safety and hygiene guidance and is informed largely by conditions in the states where the federal workforce is based.

About 85 percent of the federal workforce serves the public outside of the Washington metro area, where social distancing guidelines are more relaxed at the moment.

Dell advises customers to use disinfecting wipes on its devices — anything with alcohol that can kill germs on the surface of the rugged device — as the best way to prevent the virus from spreading.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Find out how the GRiD Compass flew as one of NASA’s first notebook computers.

Dell Tests the Durability of Rugged Laptops

In Round Rock, Texas, where Dell has its headquarters, the firm has a rugged testing lab, where Velazquez says he’s observed a rugged laptop withstanding being sprayed with a hose. He said the devices are designed with no moving parts and with rubber seals to ensure they can operate after coming in contact with water.

“They can take a lot of abuse,” he says. “They were designed for field use.”

The rugged devices initially drew interest from the military, but eventually were seen as the ideal devices for those working in unpredictable conditions in the field. The devices are designed to survive being dropped, coming in contact with water or being exposed to the elements, Velazquez says.

He says one agency had an employee in the field testing soil samples. The main concern was how to clean the dirt and mud off the 12-inch notebook the employee was using. Another customer wanted to be able to sanitize rugged devices being brought in and out of operating rooms.

Both scenarios lend themselves to the rugged line, Velazquez says. The same is true for any situation where sanitizing is required to safeguard against the spread of viruses and promote user safety and health 

“We know how rugged and durable they are,” Velazquez says of the devices.

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