Garmin Mobile PC For Emergency Responding
Colby In Regina
Hello all,

Went ahead and purchased Garmin Mobile PC for my CF-28 toughbook for usage in my vehicle. Primary usage will be for EMS/Fire calls, but also casual "GPS".

Just wondering if anybody has had any experience with this program in the Emergency Services field or if anyone in Regina or Saskatchewan can comment on it's usefulness.

Thank you.

Ken in Regina
Hi Colby,

Welcome to the forum.

I'm not aware of anyone using it in emergency services. There are at least two areas where all consumer navigation products, including Mobile PC, will be weak for that use: maps and civic addresses.

Maps - there will always be large areas of the city that are not on the maps. That's a problem with maps on all of the commercial navigation products and is not unique to Garmin. Garmin uses the same Navteq maps that many of the other products use. They are good but usually two years or more behind the development of new subdivisions. In a city that is growing like Regina, that's likely a problem.

Civic Addresses - civic addresses are not placed in the correct locations on the map. They actually aren't placed on the map at all. A block of civic addresses are "attached" to the block on the street where they are located, e.g. the 17xx addresses are associated with the 1700 block. Specifically, this indicates that they will appear somewhere on the 1700 block. It does not indicate where on the block they are located. It does not guarantee that any particular address in the range will actually appear on the block. It simply says that, say 1700-1799 will appear somewhere in the 1700 block. Or it might give a list of the actual civic addresses that appear on that block.

In order to give you some idea where the actual address might be, the navigation products use a couple of rules. First, they assume that the odd numbers will all be on one side and the even numbers will be on the other. Which side will contain even and odd is another arbitrary rule. And it assumes that the block is broken up into evenly sized frontages. So when you enter an address it will return a location based on those rules, or similar. Most of the time this will work. But not always.

If you have to go outside the city limits of Regina you are into a world of hurt for finding locations if you don't have the actual lat/lon coordinates. As you probably know, all rural locations in Saskatchewan with humans have been assigned numeric location identifiers which are related to geographic coordinates. But they don't exist in Mobile PC or any of the other consumer navigation products.

As I mentioned at the top, these problems exist for all consumer navigation programs. Both can be mitigated in a variety of ways but it's not easy.

One problem specific to Mobile PC is that Garmin has discontinued it. That means there will be no new versions available. Since one of the "features" of each new release of Mobile PC has been updated maps, getting up to date maps for it will be a bit of a problem. It will be less of a problem if you got a version of Mobile PC that is bundled with a GPS receiver like the GPS10x or GPS20x. If you got the software-only version it might be more of a problem.

Sorry to be a wet rag. Read through the FAQ sticky at the top of the Garmin Mobile PC index page for the answers to a lot of the basic questions. Use the search box at the top of any page for specific issues that might already have lots of information on them. If you can't find what you need, just drop a post in here.

Colby In Regina

What would you suggest for a better mapping solution? I know that rural addressing will be extremely difficult, but I have paper mapping for that side of things. City wise is what I'm looking for more so.

Marvin Hlavac
Hi Colby, and welcome to the forum. What Ken has said about the address search, specifically about the street number search, is worth repeating:

Most of the time this will work. But not always.
I think where many people have a problem is that they start trusting their GPS too much, because they've used it to arrive to a few destinations, and it has never failed them. So the more they use it, the more they trust it. But then one day, there's a map error, and it tells them to make a left turn where left turn is prohibited, or it tells them to turn on a road unsuitable for their vehicle type, or it tells them they've arrived to their destination, even though the house number they need is in reality another 300 meters ahead. The consequences of following this technology blindly may range from minimal to disastrous.

As long as one is an experienced driver, and keeps in mind this technology has it's limitations, s/he will benefit greatly from using it.

I do not know how reliable maps Navteq (the company that provides navigable map data for many GPS solutions, including Garmin Mobile PC) currently has for the Regina area. I live in Toronto, and have been using various GPS products almost on a daily bases for about a decade. It's an amazing productivity tool. The more time you spend on the road, the more you benefit from it. Especially where rapid response time is important, these tolls let you enter your destination address in seconds (after a bit of experience), and save you precious time most of the time. We just have to remember that this is just a tool that occasionally may fail to find a newly built street, or even an old street (due to a map data error), etc.

Once you start using it, you will likely not want to work without it.
Ken in Regina

I'm not aware of any other consumer product that would be any better for what you want to do. I know where the very latest map data for all of Saskatchewan is but I don't know if there are any realtime navigation programs that can use it. And I don't know if access to the data is affordable.

I've sent you a PM with my contact in case you want to get together and discuss it further.

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