GPS / Telematics

San Francisco May Expand Telematics Use

April 10, 2015

Photo via Wikipedia.
Photo via Wikipedia.

The City and County of San Francisco is considering increasing its use of telematics devices in its fleet as a way to improve management and safety of the nearly 8,000 vehicles and heavy equipment.

Under the proposal, the city would expand telematics use to 3,108 vehicles from the current 2,332 in the near term. Expanding telematics to the remaining 4,733 vehicles and equipment assets would costs about $1.3 million in in one-time equipment costs and $1.8 million for annual service, training, and support costs.

"Vehicle telematics has the potential to improve safety, reduce operating costs, reduce vehicle emissions, and identify potential fraud and waste," according to a report by the Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office. The Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee discussed the report on April 9.

"One of the simplest benefits of vehicle telematics is that driver behavior can be improved by simply knowing the system is in place and that their vehicle use is being monitored, which can encourage more driver attention to safer and more efficient driving practices," according to the report.

The report advocates installing telematics devices on police, fire, and other emergency management vehicles for the first time.

Adopting telematics could save the city a significant amount of money that's now being paid in settlements and judgments as a result of claims and litigation relating to its vehicles. In the past five years, the city has paid $76.9 million to resolve these claims.

A fleet-wide telematics system would also improve vehicle efficiency by reducing idling time using driver scorecards and using wireless vehicle maintenance alerts to optimize utilization.

The city now maintains a contract with USA Fleet Solutions that includes roadside assistance such as 25 miles of towing, fuel delivery, tire changes, and lost or stolen vehicle recovery. Not all telematics vendors offer these services, according to the report.

Telematics systems are spread across 13 departments. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is the largest participating department with 930 vehicles of the 3,108.

Segments of the city's fleet also use other fleet safety and location-based technology. The city's buses use GPS and cellular radio signals to estimate arrival times, and the bus and trolley system use the DriveCam system that records video of fast acceleration or hard braking.

Read the full report here.

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