The Public Works Division was able to reduce distracted driving by 75% with Samsara’s video-based safety and proactive coaching solution.   -

The Public Works Division was able to reduce distracted driving by 75% with Samsara’s video-based safety and proactive coaching solution. 

Memphis, Tennessee, home to 633,000 residents, relies on its public works division to keep the city running. From maintaining streets to managing sanitation, this crucial department oversees tasks essential to urban life. Spearheaded by Robert Knecht, director of public works, the city has long embraced technology to enhance its operations.

In a bid to address modern challenges like equipment theft and compliance with the "Hands-Free Law," Knecht sought a solution that would offer real-time visibility into service delivery. Enter the Samsara Connected Operations Cloud, a solution aimed at reducing incidents, protecting assets, and improving overall service delivery.

Meet the City of Memphis
● 560 vehicles
● 17 departments
● 600,000+ citizens

Knecht's vision wasn't just about adopting another tech tool; it was about ensuring Memphis could adapt to evolving demands while maintaining its commitment to public service. Knecht noted that the city of Memphis Public Works (MPW) Division wanted to improve the overall management of its large fleet of vehicles both from a safety and tracking perspective.

Enhancing Fleet Security Through Centralized Data Management

Through the Samsara Connected Operations Cloud, the division has been centralizing data across its 17 departments while also using the open API to integrate this data with critical business systems. Part of this is by incorporating AI Dash Cams. After securing buy-in from the city’s unions and drivers, the public works division was able to reduce distracted driving by 75% with Samsara’s video-based safety and proactive coaching solution. 

In addition, on-demand video retrieval enabled the protection of city employees by exonerating them from not-at-fault claims, which in turn saved thousands of dollars in insurance payouts.

Regarding Tennessee’s “Hands-Free Law,” which makes it illegal to hold or use a mobile device while driving, the public works division implemented Samsara’s video-based safety solution to ensure drivers are operating within legal guidelines. 

With Samsara and ArcGIS integrations, departments can connect work orders and citizen complaints.  -

With Samsara and ArcGIS integrations, departments can connect work orders and citizen complaints.

Since implementing this, the city has rolled out more than 500 dual-facing AI Dash Cams across the organization. During this process, Knecht made sure all 11 labor associations were up to date on the changes to secure buy-in. 

One incident captured on the AI Dash Cam showed an employee driving below the speed limit when a bicyclist failed to yield to the vehicle causing an accident. As a result, the city avoided a citation and costly insurance payouts. 

“Instead of waiting until an incident happens, Samsara lets us look at someone’s behavioral characteristics and take corrective action,” said Rob Robinson, Safety Compliance Manager. “Samsara helps us build more conscientious drivers.”

The city plans to use telematics data to reward drivers for safe driving through Samsara Safety Scores to support their Safe Driving Awards program. 

“Overall, the improvements in safe driving behavior have exceeded expectations,” Knecht noted. “Samsara’s solution has also improved MPW drivers’ perception of the benefits since it has cleared several of being at fault in accidents.”

Streamlining Fleet Operations with ArcGIS Integration

With Samsara and ArcGIS integrations, MPW departments can seamlessly and in real time connect work orders and citizen complaints. Departments also frequently coordinate efforts when working in an area to enhance response. For example, a street sweeper dispatched to clean up after a storm drain inlet cleaning crew.

When residents report issues such as potholes, the information is logged into ArcGIS, allowing officials to overlay Samsara vehicle data onto the map for immediate employee assignment. This approach not only enhances efficiency but also prevents potential problems from escalating.

Furthermore, the advantages extend beyond internal operations. Citizens have access to a public version of the map, enabling them to track the status of reported issues and facilitating transparency in service delivery.

“Integration with ArcGIS enables MPW with the ability to dispatch citizen service requests to the closest field crew thereby increasing response time,” Knecht explained. 

In instances requiring urgent attention, administrators can utilize the Samsara Dashboard to pinpoint the location of service requests and efficiently assign nearby employees.   -

In instances requiring urgent attention, administrators can utilize the Samsara Dashboard to pinpoint the location of service requests and efficiently assign nearby employees. 

Creating Better Visibility Into Vehicle Locations, Service Issues 

Given the often hazardous nature of the public works environment, code enforcement officers may need to navigate unpredictable scenarios during residential property inspections. Prior to implementing real-time GPS tracking, the lack of vehicle location visibility posed challenges for the city in safeguarding its personnel.

With the adoption of Samsara Vehicle Gateways across the fleet, the city now benefits from precise vehicle location tracking and the ability to provide immediate assistance to employees when necessary. Furthermore, Samsara's solutions have streamlined routing and dispatch processes.

In instances requiring urgent attention, administrators can utilize the Samsara Dashboard to pinpoint the location of service requests and efficiently assign nearby employees, thereby enhancing operational uptime and expediting service response times.

When it comes to privacy and data security of the information collected, MPW limits access to management personnel and every user has a unique login.

“Using the Samsara Dashboard, I can see who’s close by in the area. I can give them a call and say, ‘Hey, I need you to drop everything and go to this location for us,’” said Code Enforcement Supervisor Jeremy Cooper. “It’s been very helpful for us.”

Protecting Equipment from Theft with GPS Tracking

The public works division operates heavy-duty equipment valued at upwards of $1 million. When several of these units were stolen — mowers worth $20,000 each — the city used Samsara’s GPS to track and recover the mowers, saving them $40,000-plus in recovered assets.

“We have a big fleet, anywhere from sedans to very large heavy equipment. The great thing with Samsara is it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle it is—they can make it work,” Knecht said. “It’s helped us recover a few of our stolen mowers, and that pays for itself quickly.”

About the author
Nichole Osinski

Nichole Osinski

Executive Editor

Nichole Osinski is the executive editor of Government Fleet magazine. She oversees editorial content for the magazine and the website, selects educational programming for GFX, and manages the brand's awards programs.

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