COLUMBUS, OH - The City of Columbus, Ohio has awarded a contract to Wireless Matrix Corporation to provide GPS fleet tracking for its Department of Public Utilities, which will help improve efficiency of field vehicles.

Under the agreement, the City is implementing the FleetOutlook Silver service for GPS tracking, and deploying Wireless Matrix devices, providing integrated GPS and wireless data communications for the solution.

The Department selected the system through its RFP process, which will be utilized in all City of Columbus Public Utilities Vehicles. The Department operates more than 500 vehicles, divided between the division of Power / Water, and Sewerage / Drainage, according to Patrick Crumley Sr., GIS analyst for the City of Columbus Dept. of Public Utilities.

"GPS vehicle tracking solutions can significantly reduce operating costs and improve efficiency for our utilities department," Crumley said.

The Department expects to:

  • Reduce fuel and maintenance costs.With the average operating cost per vehicle about $1 per mile, according to Crumley, the Department can set benchmarks and goals to reduce the miles per week for each vehicle with the GPS tracking system.
  • Reduce operating costs. Idling causes twice the amount of damage as actually driving the vehicle, Crumley explained. "One hour of idling burns one gallon of fuel per hour. Monitoring and reducing speeds, routes, and idle times are just a few things that we can do to lower our fuel bills," he said.
  • Decrease excess speeds. Tracking the speed of its vehicles can help the Department reduce the chance of an accident and save money on fuel. "Each mile per hour above 50 mph increases fuel consumption by 1.5 percent. Wear on tires almost doubles on road speeds of 70 mph or greater. The system will help keep a complete record of our vehicles speed at any particular moment," according to Crumley.
  • Improve response time and customer service. "By knowing where our vehicles are at all times on a real time map, dispatchers can easily send the nearest vehicle when a new job arises. This saves both money and time," Crumley said.

With the new tracking system, the Department will also be "going green" through operational efficiencies. "Using GPS technology to go green means we need to focus on areas of our fleet operations such as routing efficiency, fuel consumption reduction by reducing speeds, fewer miles driven, and fewer vehicles on the road. Studies have shown about 20 percent improvements in fleet efficiencies in as little as 90 days without changing out a vehicle," Crumley said.

In addition, the system features can also help boost safety. The Department can generate alerts to be sent to supervisors, managers, and fleet manager by e-mail, text message, and pop-up windows on individual desktops depending on who is assigned to get the notification. "For example, we can set a long stop alert on a vehicle. If that vehicle has not moved in such a time specified, we can then try and contact the employee to make sure everything is alright. If we cannot contact that employee we can dispatch out to the location to check on the employee," Crumley explained.

The City of Columbus was recognized as one of the top 100 Best Fleets in 2010, ranking in at No. 16.

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