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Keeping Mobile Apps Working in Rural, Wild Wireless Land along Pipeline Construction Projects

Mad Dog Materials is a major proponent of wireless apps on pipeline construction jobs. Which means finding a way to get past iffy wireless access on the job site.

The map featured at the top of this post shows wireless internet coverage in the continental United States, where you can walk outside of your home network and still have hope of conducting web-based business (or watching videos on YouTube). This map is much, much more green than it was when wireless internet first entered the market, and also much greener than just a decade ago.

It’s not tough to notice the trends: Circles around populous metropolitan areas, or simply regions where many people are spread throughout, have ample coverage. Areas where human population is lower consequently have less coverage.

Natural gas and shale deposits are often away from big cities, and consequently need pipelines to transport them to bigger markets. For example, the Dakota Access Pipeline will travel through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and a bit of Illinois. This includes a lot of rural areas…one of the most likely zones to lack wireless access.

Consider Iowa and Nebraska, two of the most productive agricultural states. Both are almost entirely uncovered. You can probably guess where Des Moines and Omaha—the biggest cities in those states—are, based on the standalone green blobs.

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Now, Mad Dog specializes in drain tile repair, and drain tile tends to exist wherever you find agriculture. A project such as Dakota Access will obviously require plenty of repairs as it crosses Iowa, and workers will theoretically log the repairs on the Mad Dog App as they make these repairs.

So…how is that possible when much of Iowa has no general wireless internet access?

Mad Dog thought ahead, a developed an Offline Mode for instances where workers drop out of wireless coverage. It allows crewmen to continue working on repairs they were working on when the internet cut out, as well as edit previous reports, and even begin new reports.

This is possible through a process called caching, or saving data onto your home server (the smartphone) until you come in contact with a signal again.

What’s the catch? Other users of the app will not be able to see the new repairs you make, or the edits you make to existing repairs. However, as soon as you come into contact with a wireless signal, all of this information will update on the network, and everyone will be able to see everything.

Hopefully the suspense won’t kill them! It’s a small price to pay for guaranteed ability to work on a wireless app, even without a wireless signal. Coverage is continuing to improve across the nation, but until it is reliable everywhere, you can count on Offline Mode to keep you in business.

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