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Hand Held Computing


A major metropolitan city? Department of Health needed an electronic management system to be used by their inspectors to log and access reports. The system allows Food Inspectors to carry small tablet computers that allow inspectors to access and modify electronic files that are then stored on a central database. In addition, the inspectors carry portable printers that allow the inspectors to print any necessary documents.

The Food Inspection Bureau is a government agency within a metropolitan city government that handles all food-related issues and problems. Food Inspectors are obligated to inspect all restaurants and food dealers once a year. They used to carry stacks of reports and questionnaires as they went from place to place to perform their inspections. With our new system, a pocket sized handheld computer and a portable printer have replaced the stacks of paper. The information required for every inspection is now formatted and accessible at the inspectors?fingertips.


The Food Inspection Handheld Computer Project is a Client/Server application. It automates the old inspection process by replacing the inspector's stack of papers with a hand-held computer system utilizing an RDMS (Relational Database Management System) business processing that is distributed between the front-end GUI application and back-end processing residing with the database. Simplified inspection process reduces paper load, missing forms, and human error.

The front-end GUI application is developed using Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0. Because Visual Basic is also the language embedded in Microsoft Office suite of desktop products, these standard applications like Microsoft Word and Outlook are enabled in the application. The application takes advantage of non-Microsoft products through OLE/ActiveX technology. Back-end processing is centralized on Oracle Lite 3.6, which is a quick and easy environment for maintaining a database. DSI also created online forms that would minimize the need to retrain inspectors.

The speed and ease-of-use of the storage and retrieval technology allow Health Inspectors to visit more sites and report problems immediately. With the system's built-in intelligence, it increases productivity and helps the Food Inspection Bureau to meet its mandate and inspect each food vendor in the metropolitan area periodically.

The system offers:
  • Data downloading directly from the central server
  • Daily inspection schedules and routes
  • Expense tracking
  • On-site printing of all inspection reports using a portable printer
  • Information dissemination to the field, including a Hot Topics feature