The city of Georgetown, Texas, had a
problem: It couldn’t keep track of utility crews.
Employees at the municipally-owned company
are responsible for a 220-mile service area,
which means that efficiency is key — and it
wasn’t happening. Georgetown was using GPS
tracking through drivers’ cell phones to find its
employees, which is a great idea if the worker
never forgets his phone or turns it off.
“We really needed to come up with a
tracking that is tied to the vehicle, and not to the
driver,” Mike Peters, information technology
director for the city of Georgetown, said.
One solution to the problem is global
positioning systems. Most GPS tracking
companies use a small device that is placed
under the steering wheel, or connected to
wires in the dashboard, that offers information
about the vehicle’s whereabouts, gas mileage
and speed, among other things. That data
is accessible to management through the
company’s website application.
“If you manage a fleet of 20 vehicles and
you’re not in the office, you need to know where
they are,” Mark Freeman, director of marketing
at GPS Wireless Matrix, said. “You can see
while you’re not in the office, but in the field,
where your drivers are.”
Most GPS companies include mobile
access to the GPS application for managers in
cost of the website application. With mobile
access, the GPS devices’ data can be accessed
at any time — even though in the not-to-distant
past, GPS data could only be received in batch
at designated intervals.
Zonar Systems’ V3 vehicle diagnostic
system offers data to the application in real
time. Its tablet, called the 2020, includes
electronic inspections, two-way messaging,
commercial navigation, ability to record video,
take pictures, surf the Internet, view email and
more. It offers the manager more control in
setting up feedback to monitor their drivers,
as well. For example, the device can be set up
to alert the manager if a driver goes 10 miles
or more over the speed limit. With Zonar, the
driver is warned once by the system about
his excessive speed. If it happens again, that
fact is reported to the fleet manager via the
application. Other feedback options include
hard braking and hard cornering.
“We’re talking to more safety managers
than we ever have in the past,” Freeman said.
“I think safety is more important than ever.”
“[The 2020 tablet] is an Android device,
so custom applications may also be developed
by a municipality,” said Andrew Johnson of
Zonar Systems.Insurance companies, too, are
starting to get involved in GPS management
and tracking, by offering rewards and discounts
for companies that use it and use it well.
AAA recently teamed up with Magellan to
offer discounts for companies who use fleet
management software. The concept is similar
to the recent Progressive Insurance “Snapshot”
program incentive. Managers can view the
vitals of the car, as well as gain information on
the driver’s performance and gain discounts
based on positive driving habits.
According to Johnson, fleet data is
becoming accessible to the public as well.
In Seattle, Wash., a recent integration with
the GIS mapping provider, Esri, provides
municipalities the ability to display
interactive location maps to the public.
People can go to a website and see, based on
the GPS computing devices on city vehicles,
whether or not a road has been plowed for