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Technology

Buying smart solutions: Technology is now part of (almost) every government purchase

When municipalities first moved toward automation, early purchases concentrated on delineated silos between technology and non-mechanized purchases. With today’s purchasing trends, there seems to be a computer chip or automation component involved in almost every government purchase.

Changing apparel industry

Whether it’s uniforms for safety personnel, custodians or park rangers, work apparel is a long-standing government purchased commodity. However, the moving pieces of an awarded uniform contract can be complicated. With varying employee needs, onboarding a new supplier can be a long, drawn-out process as the fitting and delivery component is manual and time intensive.

ServiceWear Apparel was recently selected to provide uniform services for the Los Angeles World Airports (LAX). With 1,200 employees to onboard across a two-day period, the company tested a new technology developed by their manufacturing partner, Workwear Outfitters, powered by Couture Technologies. This innovative, virtual try-on tool delivers a precise fit, streamlines the sizing process and enhances the client experience.

During the onboarding process, LAX employees arrived on-site to physically try on their new work apparel. Afterward, Workwear Outfitters and Couture engaged the employees in a test of this new technology. After measurements were taken, an employee steps on a specialized mat in front of a computer tablet. The system generates a custom avatar, fitting the same garments to the employee’s virtual body. This technological process generates size recommendations that are true to the employee’s actual body measurements within garment dimensions. In the future, there will be no need to haul dozens of uniforms in different styles and sizes to the employer location for fittings. This approach also addresses specialized sizing, supports hygiene protocols and minimizes returns.

According to Jim Burnett, chief development officer for ServiceWear Apparel, “A proper fit is important to guarantee adequate range of movement, temperature control, safety and positively impact employee morale. A two-hour trip across town to a uniform store to be fitted will become a way of the past. On-site sizing sessions can take 15-20 minutes per employee compared to less than two minutes with this new technology. We are excited about the potential of this new approach. “

Public safety greater communication

Whether it’s a multi-car accident, civil disturbance or natural disaster, public safety crews require good communication to handle any emergency. During the past decade, technological advances in equipment and networks have resulted in smaller packaging and lower costs compared to previous iterations. This trend provides tools to make the important work of the first responder more effective and safer.

One of the most significant improvements is a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network with priority and preemption for public safety to reliably transmit information. Called FirstNet, access to the network is managed by the federal First Responder Network Authority, and provided through a Sourcewell cooperative contract with AT&T. This revolutionary concept has been adopted by 3.3 million subscribers representing 20,500 public safety agencies and now being replicated in other countries.

However, a railroad network without trains doesn’t provide much benefit. As a result, the second advancement are the devices and apps to collect data and information for first responders to protect lives and property. A great example is the use of thermal imaging cameras. In thick smoke with limited visibility, these devices allow firefighters to see each other and any victims requiring rescue. In the past, due to budgetary constraints, a fire department might be lucky to have one of these devices available for the whole department. These devices are now smaller and affordable enough for every firefighter to potentially be armed with this tool. Cameras can also be mounted on drones for search missions to find missing persons, securely transmitting collected data over the FirstNet network.

Crosby Grindle, who leads strategic development for public safety at Sourcewell, states, “technology continues to evolve in the public safety space. The integration of an entire ecosystem of devices and apps is now available. As a steady stream of new devices and apps continue to be developed, this will dramatically improve how public safety responders are able to share information critical to their mission. “

To read the complete article, visit American City & County.

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