Defining and outfitting your users
Utility Cloud is an easy-to-use and intuitive platform that can be used from most devices and browsers with internet connectivity. To ensure your office or field users have an optimal experience while using the platform, we suggest the following access and equipment:
Utility Cloud users located in the office will typically access Utility Cloud on a desktop PC. All they need to use Utility Cloud is a PC, a supported browser, and a stable internet connection.
Users in the field will typically use a mobile device and should be equipped based on the type of work they are performing. We generally see four types of mobile users:
- Operational users visit operational locations to perform regulatory compliance inspections and data collection.
- Maintenance users perform preventative and corrective maintenance work as well as large scale operations such as Unidirectional Hydrant Flushing.
- Engineers perform surveys, asset evaluations, and infrastructure assessments. To enable high accuracy/submeter survey and location services when working with the GIS data and mapping features in Utility Cloud, we recommend supplementing the native GPS receiver in their mobile device with a third party sub-meter Bluetooth GPS receiver like the EOS Arrow Series.
- Regulatory users perform compliance enforcement on assets that may not be owned by the client (restaurants, private waste water collection, cross connection, fire suppression, elevator safety, etc.)
We recommend mobile users to have mobile data internet connectivity instead of relying on Wi-Fi.
Utility Cloud may be used offline, but requires synchronizing data with a Wi-Fi connection daily and does not include all features while offline. The system is designed to tolerate network outages allowing work to be completed while offline (for example performing inspections where no connectivity is available).
Ensuring mobile internet connectivity in the field
You can access Utility Cloud in the field using mobile devices either online or offline to perform work and asset management. Most features and data you might want to access require an internet connection though.
Wireless coverage can be limited due to the lack of cellular towers in remote areas and reduction of network transmitter power in mobile devices. Since users of Utility Cloud often work away from public areas such as water pump stations, remote transfer stations, industrial locations and basements of hospitals, they may experience poor connectivity. This can impact a user's ability to get the most from Utility Cloud.
We recommend outfitting your mobile worker's vehicle with a cellular connected Wi-Fi router. This overcomes connectivity issues and offers additional benefits:
- No transmit power issues as the connections are powered by the vehicle's power systems.
- Cellular, GPS and Wi-Fi antenna are externally mounted outside the cabin eliminating "cage" interference.
- One vehicle provides internet connectivity to many Wi-Fi connected devices so users do not need a data plan on their devices.
- Better cybersecurity as the network traffic is using a network router and firewall that may be remotely managed.
- Vehicle GPS tracking in Utility Cloud.
- Strong user Wi-Fi connectivity (far distances, line-of-sight and deep penetration inside nearby buildings).
- You can equip vehicles with a Wi-Fi/Cellular hot spot router with an externally mounted antenna.
- You can equip your users with a quality Wi-Fi mobile device that is ruggedized and protected.
When choosing a mobile device, choose the cellular version even if a data plan is not anticipated as these include higher quality GPS capabilities.
Estimated mobile data connectivity costs
The following estimated costs are based off pricing as of May 2018.
- $1200 per vehicle (router, antenna, no installation) (7-10 year life).
- $500 per user mobile device (iPad cellular + Wi-Fi) (3-5 year life).
We estimate costs for a shared 4G unlimited data plan for up to (10) devices to be $110 per month base plus $20 per month for each connected vehicle. For 10 connected vehicles with unlimited data the estimated monthly cost would be $310. Please note data plans and pricing vary by provider and change regularly.
How to obtain
- Procure the equipment and data plan directly from hardware and network vendors (see "Recommended Equipment" section below).
- Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org about a turn-key solution for hardware, data plan, and long term support.
Recommended Mobile Equipment
Here are the components and estimated cost for a mobile outfit that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle using magnet antenna mount and cigarette lighter power adapter:
1-yr NetCloud Essentials for Mobile Routers (Prime) with support and IBR900 router with WiFi (600Mbps modem), no AC power supply or antennas, North America
Low profile Sharkfin, “5 in 1” Antenna Black: MiMo 2G/3G/4G LTE, MiMo 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, GPS/GNSS, 5m/16’ cables. Cradlepoint Certified Antennas by Panorama
For use with the Cradlepoint Sharkfin range of MiMo antennas, this bracket provides a magnetic mount solution for antenna trials and drive-testing
COR Vehicle Power Adapter for IBR600/IBR650/IBR1100/IBR1150 (add versions)
Utility Cloud will run on any modern device will but we recommend the following tablets:
- Apple iPad (any model with minimum 16GB Wi-Fi w/Cellular option).
- Samsung Galaxy Tab (any model with minimum 16GB Wi-Fi w/Cellular option).