by JENNY SHINER | GPS Insight Marketing Communications Manager
Technology has taken us leaps and bounds ahead of where we were as a society a few decades ago. From the rise of smart homes, drones that deliver packages to our front doorsteps within hours of purchase, to self-driving cars being spotted around the city, our expectations have been forever changed.
For municipalities, the rise of the “smart city” infrastructure has been a significant influence in the adoption of fleet, transportation, energy and other technologies across their operations. The trailblazers of “smart government” recognize the possibilities of a technology-based infrastructure to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services to connect with their citizens and solve overlying issues.
One development in the field of smart cities is the increased use of telematics, providing new insight to developing the smart city through vehicle and driver data collected. This includes collecting carbon measurements, fuel usage and other metrics that can be used to support better urban sustainability. As telematics continues to play a role in the expansion of smart cities, the technology is being used by municipalities to solve many other challenges facing their fleet operations. It provides the information needed to improve fuel efficiency, resource allocation and route optimization.
Measuring fuel use
Measuring fuel use is one of the most important ways telematics is impacting smart cities while providing municipalities the most additional benefit. Not only does improving fuel efficiency limit the harmful effects of excessive greenhouse gas emissions, it can significantly reduce costs. While fuel is a consistent overhead cost that is likely to fluctuate, how much we use is certainly within our control.
An important fact worth noting about fuel is the worst mileage a vehicle can get is zero miles per gallon, which occurs when a vehicle is idling. Reducing excessive idle time is the fastest way to improve fuel economy with telematics. Vehicle idling can be reduced by tracking idle metrics through reports/alerts and taking action as soon as vehicles surpass acceptable idle time thresholds.
Another method municipalities are implementing to scale back on unnecessary fuel use is correcting inefficient driving. In addition to the safety implications of monitoring driver behavior, municipalities use telematics to review fuel use attributed to inefficient driving. This data allows for coaching opportunities to improve behavior while reducing excessive fuel use in the process. The technology can also send alerts directly to drivers when their vehicles are speeding, idling, harshly breaking or rapidly accelerating to proactively correct these behaviors as they occur.
Improving sustainability is a highly important aspect of smart cities, and municipalities are using telematics to take immediate action on lessening their environmental impact. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fleet rightsizing is a management practice that can help fleet managers build and maintain sustainable, fuel-efficient fleets.
Examining resource allocation is an important focus for fleet management, and it often leads to fleet rightsizing to ensure the maximum use of municipal vehicles. Monitoring fleet utilization reports allow fleet managers to identify if vehicles are being under-utilized or over-utilized. If vehicles are used less frequently, fleet managers can decide if they should eliminate these assets altogether.
Along with contributing to environmental impact, maintaining more vehicles in a fleet than necessary increases fuel, maintenance and several other expenses. Evaluating fleet utilization is a great method for municipalities to ensure the best use of the city’s or state’s budget. It’s important to constituents that municipalities spend their tax dollars wisely, and identifying areas to eliminate unnecessary spending helps positively affect the public opinion.
Increasing route optimization
While smart cities aim to solve traffic congestion in urban areas in the long term, it still proves to be an efficiency issue today for municipal vehicles providing public services. Municipalities are using telematics to ensure that their drivers take the most efficient routes to provide better service to citizens and ultimately decreases miles driven.
Telematics systems automatically determine the fastest routes, taking current traffic and roadwork into account, to dispatch drivers more efficiently. Route inefficiencies can also be addressed through route replay technology, allowing fleet and dispatch managers to review the routes for multiple vehicles at one time. A frequent outcome is identifying overlapping routes, which are easily identified and fixed through the technology. Eliminating overlapping routes improves fleet efficiency and reduces fuel costs, not to mention it leads to fewer vehicles in congested areas.
As we stand on the verge of a future dominated by technology, universally networked devices, and smart vehicles and transportation, the quality of life for all citizens will be improved in countless ways. Technology like telematics is already being incorporated by municipalities to influence their smart cities infrastructure while solving a variety of other issues in the process. This trend will continue in the coming years as telematics provides solutions to the issues facing municipalities and contributes fundamental data to the future of urban sustainability and efficiency.
Jenny Shiner is the marketing communications manager for GPS Insight. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Communication and is responsible for external marketing communication for all business segments that GPS Insight targets. Contact GPS Insight, www.gpsinsight.com, for more information on telematics.