Public sector fleet managers are tasked with maintaining and coordinating vehicles for emergency response teams, first responders, and public works resources that may be pulled in during an emergency. Historically, this has meant managers are liaising through radios and making phone calls to their drivers and vehicles for updates on location and job progress. Today fleet management tools have evolved, and fleet managers are using telematics to provide data in real time, which helps connect assets to operators and organizes those resources when time is of the essence.
Be Prepared, Respond Quickly
Amin Amini, Verizon Connect managing partner of solutions engineering, believes telematics and fleet management technology are quickly becoming fundamental to fleet managers across all public sectors, saying the technology is a “must-have.”
“It is essential in telematics to have a software platform that can help connect assets,” Amin stated. “Whether it be for long-haul trucks, fire trucks, police cruisers, or simply a public works department’s pick-up trucks and regular vehicles, there must be a platform that is usable across any kind of asset that a rapid response organization may need or have.”
Amini thinks about the role of emergency response telematics in two distinct categories — preparedness and response time.
Fleet managers can use fleet management software to diagnose vehicle health quickly, leveraging the system’s reports to make plans to schedule maintenance and keep the fleet in working order. Data the software leverages includes the historical utilization of an asset, from odometer readings and engine hours to past maintenance check-ins.
“So when an emergency strikes, you are prepared to deploy,” Amin said. “A fleet manager has done all their ‘homework’ to maintain fleet vehicles, and he or she can rest easy knowing they are ready to quickly help when it matters the most.”
Geofencing, reliable location data, and the ability to manage vehicle health and maintenance are essential features provided through telematics. All this information can be shared and analyzed through telematics software platforms or dashboards. Verizon Connect’s fleet management software for instance is being used for a variety of purposes and public sector departments.
Gary McLean, fleet manager for the City of Lakeland, Fla., used Verizon Connect’s platform to aid in recovery efforts of Hurricane Maria in 2017. The city was tasked with transporting trucks and workers to Puerto Rico. GPS fleet tracking worked on the ships en route, despite no cellular connectivity, and helped the disaster response team keep tabs on the city’s assets. This ensured that vehicles were at the right place at the right time, increased efficiency, and protected the city from losing thousands of dollars’ worth of assets.
Amini added that as more communities invest in advanced network infrastructure, and emergency service agencies connect to central dispatches, fleet managers can amass more useful data while providing aid in serious emergencies.
This all works in hand with keeping drivers accountable. Sharing data aids in ensuring that every aspect of any emergency response team is working coherently and in sync, which in turn enables rapid response.
“That’s what telematics does. It takes the perception out of decision making and instead enables fleet managers to use facts and data for empirical decisions and take action and plan with the relevant information.”