My firm is required to perform inventories of equipment of healthcare clients at the outset of projects. We are seeking a solution to issues we face in the field.
Our current software application allows for individual users to capture equipment data and upload it to a database. There are currently two versions of the application: a live and an offline version:
The live version allows users to receive equipment inventory updates in relative real time as the inventory progresses. It is only available if the facility has a reliable wifi signal connected to the internet.
The offline version requires each user to pre-load the project to their individual devices. All data captured is limited to that device until users are able to connect to the internet and upload that data to the project database, and then refresh each individual device's data with the information captured. This version of the application is much more common, as healthcare facilities frequently have unreliable networks for non-staff personnel to access or no non-staff access at all in older facilities.
This poses multiple issues:
a. A convoluted process of every member individually uploading their data to the database, then keeping in turn downloading the updated project information.
b. Duplicated work. The inability of the devices to communicate in the field means that users who are not working next to each other may very well capture the same data, and if the don't capture it in exactly the same way it creates countless additional project hours to reconcile all of this data.
A possible solution I've considered would be bringing a router to the job site with a laptop and setting up a LAN that connects the devices without requiring that they have internet access. The problem with this solution that I've found is that the LAN wireless network created by the router would have to be strong enough to connect devices over thousands of square feet. My thought to this is that, if there are battery-powered signal boosters that each team member could carry with him, this may be a viable solution. I lack the IT knowledge to adequately propose this solution to my firm's partners, so I need a basic description of how this type of solution would be accomplished, if it's possible.
Is it possible to establish a reliable offline wireless network to connect mobile devices - one that, even if signal was temporarily interrupted, could relay information immediately upon re-establishing network connection?
If so, what are the basics needed to make this work in the field - how could I describe this solution to my firm's partners to clearly illustrate that this solution is viable? (and in turn, we could relay what we need to an IT consultant brought in to create this solution)
Software/Hardware used: iPad, Microsoft Surface, wireless router