Paso sets mobile tech upgrade

Paso Robles’ water and wastewater divisions will receive $61,000 in mobile technology upgrades this year, replacing paper maps and reducing the time crews in the field spend filing reports and paperwork.

City leaders say the on-the-go program, which allows crews to take an existing database into the field, will be implemented within two months.

The City Council this month approved adding the new software and mobile devices to city vehicles so crews can access the city’s data on water and wastewater systems in the field instead of using paper maps and heading back into the office to file reports and reference information.

The software and installation will cost about $37,600, according to the city, while the associated hardware is an additional $23,200.

“The savings will pay back the costs within one year,” wastewater manager Matt Thompson said.

That’s because it’s designed to cut back on paperwork, ensure accuracy of the age and condition of the underground systems, and minimize the time spent and distance traveled between tasks, he added.

The mobile devices — which include shock-resistant waterproof laptop computers with touch screens and GPS antennas — will allow crews to pull up digital maps of underground utilities, drawings to determine underground utility locations, and digital inspection reports, as well as to input data on a real-time basis, among other uses.

“This system will be very similar to what you see in most police vehicles and many county Public Works vehicles,” Thompson said.

The cost of the equipment will come from the city’s water and sewer funds and will not impact the city’s general fund, which pays for basic city services such as police and parks, and has been hit by the recession.

The software will be installed in five city vehicles, and the hardware is slated for four. One vehicle already has a mobile device for another purpose.