GPS Topo Software for Police Cruiser
Hi, what I have been tasked to do is install a semi-rugged laptop with GPS capabilities in a police car. I also need to show topography in case of a natural disaster, (e.g. flood) so that they can help the ones in lower lying areas first. Can anyone recommend software and hardware for this application? The computer I will be using is the Dell Latitude E6410 ATG.

If you want topo maps, I think you will need to use Garmin. Most topo maps are not capable of routing (providing turn by turn directions to your destination), they only show your position on the screen. However Garmin's 24k topo series contains the same routable roads from Navteq as their City Navigator product. They can be purchased here (each DVD covers several states):,FILTER_REGION_NORTHAMERICA

Unfortunately, Garmin has discontinued MobilePC which is the only product that could utilize these maps on a computer, but you may still be able to find it at some vendors:
Ken in Regina

You did not specify whether you need to be able to do realtime navigation with the laptop or just be able to view maps of an area.

If you need to do both, DeLorme's Topo 9.0 also works well on a PC. Unlike Garmin's Mobile PC, DeLorme's Topo 9.0 is a current and supported product.

Topo North America - DeLorme

It seems to have all the routable road data that their Street Atlas product has plus it has the topo information. You can also subscribe to download aerial imagery if that is of interest.

If you are in the continental US the topo data and the routing data work well. Although the product is called "North America", anything outside the lower 48 (e.g. Canada, Alaska) can be pretty awful.

If you only need to be able to view maps and do not need to do realtime navigation, there is a broader range of solutions available.

Thanks for the fast responses. Real time navigation would be what we are looking for. I was wondering about the Garmin Mobile PC working with Windows 7, but it looks like its not supported. I'm not familiar with DeLorme software, but I am about to do a little reading on it. It actually sounds more like what we are looking for.

We are in "small town" Arkansas but the officers cover a wide area in their daily routines.

As far as a GPS receiver, is there any one better than the other?

Thanks again for the support!

Marvin Hlavac
Jason, Garmin Mobile PC runs just fine on Windows 7. I use it on my Win 7 64 bit laptop, and it runs flawlessly. I don't use it in conjunction with any topographical maps, just road maps, but as earlier stated, you could add maps you require.

It's a pity Garmin discontinued the product, but it in no way is going to prevent me from using it for many years to come. I don't mind buying new map data for it from time to time. I don't even need more features, as the software already meets my needs.

If you are going to be equipping several of your vehicles with it, it makes sense to try more than one product before you make your decision.
Do you have a suggestion for a GPS receiver? I like the idea of trying Mobile PC and DeLorme to see which one works best. I have just ordered both programs, but I am still not sure about the receiver.

Would I be able to use the same type for both programs or do they require a specific receiver?

Are there any that just work better than others?

I cant say thank you enough for all the advice.
Assuming you ordered the version of Mobile PC that does not include a GPS, either program will work with a standard USB or Bluetooth GPS device. Consider a Globalsat BU-353 or iBlue GM-2 USB GPS but others will work fine.

There is a site where you can download free topo maps that work with almost all Garmin map-capable GPSs. About