Maintaining efficiency and cost-effectiveness is a crucial task for any taxpayer-funded operation. Municipal & local government fleet managers have to follow extraordinarily tight budgets—and the public will hold civic leaders accountable for any waste. Maintaining a fleet of municipal vehicles can be an especially costly proposition. This is where global positioning system (GPS) devices can be incredibly useful.
This all boils down to how GPS vehicle tracking is used by these organizations. From a municipal risk management perspective, the use of GPS technology and telematics can help to reduce many of the risks and costs facing your fleet.
Here are a few ways that GPS tracking solutions for municipalities can help your vehicle fleet:
1. Managing & Monitoring Driver Activities and Behaviors
Sitting in traffic waiting for it to clear is an enormous time and productivity sink for municipal fleet vehicles. Excessive engine idling means that municipal workers lose productivity time, fuel is being consumed, and extra wear and tear is placed on municipal vehicle engines.
GPS tracking systems for municipalities help by allowing dispatch to reroute vehicles around major traffic jams, helping keep vehicles on task. GPS fleet management systems provide enhanced visibility of your fleet vehicles and driver behaviors, which contributes to achieving safer and more efficient fleets.
In addition to knowing where your vehicles are at any given moment, this allows municipal fleet managers to know whether their drivers are safe, on schedule, and driving competently.
Furthermore, GPS can help improve efficiency by keeping municipal workers from using fleet vehicles for non-work tasks on the job. For example, if you use geofencing, you can define a service area for fleet vehicles, and get an alert if the vehicle leaves its route. This allows you to quickly reach out and verify why the driver has left their assigned municipal service area, and put them back on track.
2. Optimizing the Dispatch of Maintenance Vehicles
The responsibility of maintaining public infrastructure is important. When there are emergency calls for handling situations like road maintenance issues, you need to get a vehicle out quickly to respond. To save both time and resources, this (ideally) would mean sending the closest available vehicle to the service area.
When using conventional, non-GPS tracking methods, this task often would require contacting different drivers to find out their locations to discover who is closest to the location. A GPS fleet tracking solution for maintenance vehicles now makes this possible without the hassle and time spent dealing with respondent-to-respondent discussions about who is closer.
For other fleet vehicles that handle non-emergency services such as snowplowing, sanitation, and street sweeping, Rastrac’s StreetComplete tool can be incredibly helpful. This color-coded and customizable map system helps municipal fleet managers track many key pieces of information, including:
- Which streets have been serviced.
- Who serviced each specific area.
- How long ago each area was serviced.
This powerful and versatile tool takes the tracking and distribution of fleet assets to a whole new level, ensuring that areas receive coverage without overlap that wastes resources.
3. Monitoring Remote Vehicle Performance
Keeping track of the mileage and maintenance dates of fleet vehicles and equipment presents quite a challenge for municipality fleet managers. After all, you can be dealing with a fleet of hundreds of vehicles that are put through the rigors of daily use on a limited budget.
This is where GPS fleet management software simplifies the process and makes it more manageable. With GPS fleet tracking for municipalities, you can:
- Track the total mileage of each vehicle.
- Monitor key performance metrics.
- Track the vehicle’s hours of operation.
Some GPS devices have the ability to interface with a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system to provide remote diagnostics. With this information, it’s much easier to identify which vehicles are most in need of preventative maintenance.
This not only helps reduce costs by enabling smaller, less expensive repairs, it helps avoid on-the-road breakdowns that disrupt operations (and traffic). By triaging vehicle maintenance in terms of which vehicles need to be serviced first, you can prevent vehicle breakdowns that would otherwise result in expensive repair costs and vehicle downtime.
4. Increasing the Safety of Law Enforcement Personnel
It is no secret that law enforcement personnel have incredibly dangerous jobs. By optimizing how marked and unmarked police vehicles are dispatched, police dispatchers can provide greater support to officers and help to increase their safety in the field. Patrol car route optimization helps your department maximize coverage by making the most of the units that are available.
One example is if an officer calls for backup, a dispatcher can quickly locate the next closest, available officer to respond to the scene. Another example would be that police can coordinate with the dispatcher for a chase to cut off a fleeing suspect safely and efficiently for everyone involved, including innocent bystanders.
5. Optimizing Police Deployments
An additional way that GPS tracking software like Rastrac’s StreetComplete solution can help improve law enforcement operations is to optimize the patrol routes of police cruisers to ensure consistent coverage throughout a neighborhood.
Using the color-coded map overlay allows dispatchers to see which roads/streets have been recently patrolled by law enforcement officers, and which ones have not been checked in a while. With this information, police can optimize their patrol routes to ensure that no road goes unchecked—increasing the area they can cover without having to add a bunch of extra patrol cars.
6. Speeding up the Recovery of Lost/Stolen Municipal Vehicles
A lost or stolen vehicle can bite deeply into a municipal agency’s budget. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for municipal vehicles to get lost or stolen. Without GPS, recovery of a stolen vehicle is a matter of luck.
With GPS, you can forward the last known GPS coordinates of a lost or stolen vehicle to police agencies, greatly increasing the odds of finding the asset and recovering it intact. This can save a lot of money on the cost of acquiring a new vehicle.
7. Reducing Fleet and Overhead Costs
As you can see, each of these different uses for GPS tracking can help your organization and department — as well as the taxpayers — save money in both the short term and long run.
Your department or organization can reduce costs by:
- Monitoring and addressing risky driver behaviors that create unnecessary wear and tear on vehicles and increase the risk of accidents and potential lawsuits.
- Reducing wasteful assignments or route overlap.
- Reducing the need for expensive repairs through regular fleet maintenance.
- Decreasing gas usage with optimized patrol routes.
These are just a few of the ways that a municipal agency can benefit from using GPS tracking devices in their fleet vehicles. For more information about GPS for municipalities, check out some of our other resources.