The Eastern Municipal Water District in California got a return on investment (ROI) for its GPS system just 2.5 months after installation. The water district had anticipated a six-month ROI when it began installing the Networkfleet GPS units in 300 of its 350 fleet vehicles four years ago.

In a video released by Verizon, which owns Networkfleet, the water district’s Director of Maintenance Mark Iverson said, “The biggest areas of ROI was reduction in miles driven, reduction in fuel used, and increased productivity among employees. We are able to coach employees and modify the driving habits, which brings significant savings in terms of reduced accidents and reduced liability.”

The Eastern Municipal Water District services Riverside County, Calif. Its fleet consists of sedans, half-ton pickup trucks, service trucks, dump trucks, and over-the-road tractors. Iverson told GF the water district installed the GPS systems in 2009 on 1997-MY and newer vehicles. It chose Networkfleet because the company’s system offered real-time diagnostic information and roadside assistance. The water district piggybacked off a contract from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which had recently purchased Networkfleet for its vehicles.

Iverson said safety improvements have also led to unexpected, but significant savings. In the past, the water district paid $180,000-$250,000 in claims per year. With the Networkfleet GPS system, claims payments have decreased to less than $10,000 per year for the past two years.

“Management and the insurance company have been able to use the tool to refute many false claims,” Iverson explained.

In addition to claims savings, the fleet has seen a marked decrease in overall vehicle collisions and elimination of at-fault speed-related accidents.

"The Networkfleet platform helps government fleet operators lower operating expenses and increase productivity by reducing idle times, improving vehicle routing and scheduling, and monitoring vehicle performance and diagnostics for repair and maintenance purposes," said Kevin Irland, Verizon Enterprise Solutions spokesman. "A variety of factors go into determining the Networkfleet return on investment, including the reduction in total fuel and repair costs and productivity gains through improved fleet operations and utilization, as well as safer driving practices and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Typically, return on investment is achieved within six to 12 months."

Even drivers at the Eastern Municipal Water District who were hesitant about the technology in their vehicles are now convinced that GPS has its benefits.

“I had a safety issue that was emailed to me from Networkfleet,” said Jeffrey Marcich, field services – utility worker II, about the vehicle diagnostic features. “There was no ABS light on; there was nothing to indicate to me there was a problem with my brakes.”

Another driver described a time when he was stuck with a flat tire and unable to relay his location. “I couldn’t tell anybody where I was at because none of the streets were marked, so they were able to pull me up on GPS and send out help to fix the tire,” said Larry Chilson, field services – utility worker II. “Being out working alone and having someone that’s able to find you immediately in case of an emergency is invaluable.”

GPS is now installed in all new vehicles as well as older vehicles the water district plans to keep for a while. Networkfleet employees trained water district technicians on how to install the units, while a staff member inputted data for each of the units. For other fleets looking to install GPS in their vehicles, the one challenge Iverson noted was, “It takes time to roll it out.”