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Should Municipalities Use Personal Tracking Devices? Brian Dziuk | Apr 17, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Municipalities have to provide a lot of public services—often while operating on a shoestring budget. Tasks such as street maintenance and public safety patrols can be difficult and expensive, and municipal employees are often held to high standards of accountability. However, many municipalities lack the resources they need for employee monitoring on the job.

One tool that many municipalities might overlook is the personal tracking device. While many city and state governments use GPS tracking systems for their municipal vehicles, they may not be using personal location tracking solutions to monitor how their employees act in the field.

Are personal tracking devices worth it for municipalities? What makes these tracking devices different from the ones used for vehicles? And, how can municipalities use these devices in their day-to-day operations?

What is a Personal Tracking Device?

A personal tracking device is a small GPS tracking device that is used to locate a specific person or object. These devices typically run on an internal battery that will eventually need to be recharged or replaced.

Personal tracking devices can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and may use different methods to track a worker’s current position. For example, the RastracGo device is a small, credit card-shaped device that can use GPS systems, cell phone towers, or Wi-Fi connections to monitor an employee’s current location. The GPS mode provides more accurate information, while the cell tower mode is more power-efficient.

Uses of Personal Tracking Devices for Municipalities

Why should municipalities use personal tracking devices instead of simply relying on vehicle GPS tracking systems? The answer is that personal GPS tracking devices can be a bit more flexible and mobile than vehicle-mounted units. Here are a few potential applications of personal tracking devices:

  • Monitoring Municipal Employee Safety. Some municipal employees may frequently have to work in potentially hazardous conditions. For example, safety inspectors may spend a lot of time in overly humid or dry rooms that are kept at unsafely high or low temperatures. Some personal tracking devices, like the RastracGo, are capable of monitoring environmental conditions such as light, noise, humidity, and temperature. If unsafe conditions are detected, an alert can be generated so municipal management can reach out and verify that the employee is okay.
  • Tracking Police Locations During On-Foot Chases. Police officers can’t always catch up to a suspect in an on-foot chase alone. Additionally, trying to take in a perp solo can be extremely dangerous for a law enforcement officer. To corner suspects in on-foot chases, they need to coordinate with other officers. Personal tracking devices can make this easy by giving dispatchers up-to-date information about each officer’s location so one officer can cut off a suspect’s escape route or be guided to another officer’s exact location more quickly.
  • Coordinating Bike Cop Patrols. Most vehicle GPS systems require a power source to work. Personal tracking devices can be placed on bike officers to provide accurate location tracking and help coordinate patrols. When combined with management software like StreetComplete, it becomes easy to maximize patrol route coverage for public safety personnel.
  • Aiding Search and Rescue/Emergency Response Efforts. Emergency response teams often have to travel far from traversable roadways to find and help civilians. This often means leaving their vehicle GPS tracking systems behind. With personal tracking devices, dispatchers can see where emergency responders are at all times, which can help ensure that nobody gets lost and that search patterns are more effective and efficient.

Benefits of Tracking Municipal Employees

Using personal tracking devices to monitor emergency responders can be especially beneficial for municipalities. Whether for normal patrols or during a crisis situation, using GPS tracking devices that can be carried by hand provides numerous benefits, such as:

Increasing First Responder Safety                       

Getting isolated during a crisis situation can be incredibly dangerous for law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance teams, and other emergency response personnel. Using personal tracking devices to monitor each responder’s location can help ensure that responders avoid getting lost or separated during an emergency.

Increasing Municipal Employee Accountability

Citizens demand accountability from their civic government employees. The increasing use of devices like body cameras by police officers and emergency responders is helping improve accountability for civil servants.

By using personal tracking solutions, municipalities can further increase the accountability of their employees—proving that municipal staff was at a given location at a specific time.

Keeping Municipal Employees on Task

For any municipality, the cost-to-performance ratio of most activities is crucial. When municipal employees are on the job, it’s important to ensure that they spend their time as efficiently as possible to avoid wasting the budget. GPS tracking solutions help to track when and where people in the field are spending their time.

This can help municipalities avoid having their employees spending too much time on personal tasks when out in the field. For example, municipal managers could track street cleaning crews to see whether they’re spending their time clearing streets or if they’re taking overly-long breaks where no one can watch them. Alternatively, this can be used to help enforce required breaks so municipal employees don’t overwork themselves.

These are just a few of the uses and benefits of personal tracking devices for municipal governments. Ready to learn more about how your municipality could benefit from GPS tracking? Reach out to the Rastrac team today!

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