All Department of General Services vehicles have been equipped with GPS devices. Photo courtesy of Sacramento County

All Department of General Services vehicles have been equipped with GPS devices. Photo courtesy of Sacramento County

Sacramento County, Calif., has installed telematics units from Verizon Networkfleet on 200 of its fleet vehicles as part of a pilot project. The Fleet Services Division will evaluate whether it gets a return on investment (ROI) over the next six months to determine if it will expand telematics use across the fleet, said Keith Leech, chief, Fleet Division and Parking Enterprise for the county.

The fleet purchased 400 units through AssetWorks via the federal General Services Administration (GSA) contract, ensuring that the telematics system will be integrated with the AssetWorks M5 system through its telematics module, Leech said.

Verizon contractors have already installed the first 200 units on Department of General Services vehicles, and Leech is in talks with more unions for installations on additional vehicles. He hopes to have those completed by early next year.

Leech

Leech

"It comes down to the need to establish trust and our credibility for how GPS information will be used prior to expanding the implementation. It's not going to be a big brother thing — we're not going to have supervisors sitting in front of a big Star Wars screen monitoring what their people are doing throughout the day," Leech said. "It's really about trying to use the information to make our customers more aware of how their driver’s behavior can impact costs and improve the overall efficiency of the vehicles, hopefully reducing downtime. And of course the big goal is to use the information for better utilization."

Having better utilization data can allow the county to further reduce its fleet size or identify applications where electric vehicles can be used instead, Leech explained. Other ways the system will benefit the fleet are better maintenance tracking with fault code monitoring and automated work requests sent to AssetWorks M5, as well as reducing fuel expenses.

If these factors prove ROI, Leech hopes to be able to roll out telematics to more than 2,000 vehicles within the next few years. And he says ROI is easier to prove these days.

“The cost of GPS has come down so dramatically — under this federal contract, these devices are only $120 each now, and they used to be two to three times that,” Leech said. In addition, the county will pay about $20 per vehicle per month for the the service.

“Public fleets that haven’t gone into GPS should really take another look at it if they said it was too much of an investment in the past,” Leech recommended.

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