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Using Mobile Tracking Apps for Municipal Employees Brian Dziuk | Jun 8, 2020 2:49:15 PM

GPS tracking and other telematics solutions can be incredibly useful for municipal operations. However, obtaining and maintaining a stock of GPS tracking devices can be an expensive proposition for municipalities on a tight budget, especially if municipal managers need to track individual employees and not just larger pieces of equipment (like snowplows, street cleaning vehicles, and other high-value machines).

There’s a way to track municipal employees in the field without having to invest in expensive high-end GPS tracking devices—and it leverages one of the most popular communication solutions out there: A mobile tracking app.

What is a mobile tracking app? How can municipalities use smartphone apps for location tracking to enhance communications, save money, and improve operational efficiency?

What Is a Mobile Tracking App?

A mobile tracking app is a piece of software designed for mobile devices that enables them to be used as location tracking devices (using the device’s built-in location tracking features). In most cases, the “mobile device” in question is a smartphone carried by an employee.

Mobile tracking apps may have additional features beyond simple location tracking. For example, PocketRastrac has features for tracking total miles an employee has traveled, where employees stop (and for how long), assessing driving habits, and enabling two-way communications between employees in the field and municipal managers.

Additionally, the PocketRastrac smartphone app can be set to disable itself when employees aren’t “on the clock.” This is useful for protecting the privacy of municipal employees.

To use a location tracking software app like PocketRastrac, you generally need four things:

  1. A mobile device that supports the app in question and has GPS capabilities (including a mobile data plan).
  2. The app to be installed on the device.
  3. A tracking service plan from the software provider.
  4. The mobile device to have a static IP address for receiving messages and tracking data.

In the case of PocketRastrac, there are versions of the app for both iPhone and Android devices.

How Can Municipalities Use GPS Tracking?

There are a number of ways your municipality can use a location tracking and communication solution like PocketRastrac, such as:

  • Tracking Street Cleaning Crews/Vehicles. Using smartphone GPS data, municipalities can monitor the progress of street cleaning vehicles or individual cleaning crew members in the field. Using this data, street maintenance managers can accurately assess which roads are most in need of cleaning, and which ones have already been serviced in a given time period.
  • Guiding Municipal Employees Around Traffic Jams. By monitoring traffic conditions and employee locations, municipal managers can redirect employees in the field to avoid traffic jams. This helps to save time and reduce engine idling for municipal vehicles.
  • Verifying That Employees Are Where They’re Supposed to Be. Is the road maintenance team filling in the pothole on 5th Avenue and sticking to the schedule? With location tracking apps, you don’t have to wonder—you’ll know. Keep municipal employees on task and make more efficient use of your labor budget.
  • Communicating with Municipal Employees in Real Time. Send alerts and messages to your employees in the field with the mobile app’s communication features. Keep employees apprised of changes in work orders (or their priority) and any developing situations they need to know about (which can help keep workers safe if an emergency arises).

The Benefits of Tracking Mobile Phones with PocketRastrac

The benefits of tracking mobile phones have a lot of similarities to the benefits of having dedicated GPS devices—with a few key differences. Some ways your municipality can benefit from software-based tracking solutions include:

  • Eliminating Hardware Costs. Instead of having to source and install GPS tracking devices on all of their equipment (or buying dedicated tracking tools for each municipal employee), municipalities can simply install an app on each employee’s mobile phone. According to data from the Pew Research Center, “The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 81%.” So, odds are good that most, if not all, of your municipal employees will own a device that’s compatible with the smartphone app.
  • Reducing Wasteful Activities/Habits. With location tracking data, you can verify that employees are staying on task when in the field. This eliminates side trips made on your municipality’s time—making more efficient use of your labor and resources. If wasteful activities are identified, you can correct the behavior quickly.
  • Saving Time. GPS tracking solutions make it easier for employees to navigate around traffic jams or other problems that could cause delays in reaching their assigned work areas. By reducing travel time, your crews in the field can spend more time on street maintenance (or other tasks) so more gets done with less.
  • Improving Communications. PocketRastrac has a built-in communication solution to help municipal management communicate more efficiently with their employees. Send text alerts and updates to teams in real time so they can work more efficiently or avoid hazards—all using a device they will consistently have on their person so notifications aren’t as likely to be missed.

Need to track your municipality’s employees, but have a tight budget? Reach out to the Rastrac team to learn more about smartphone-based location tracking now!

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