TRENTON, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Transportation began installation of radio and GPS devices in its fleet of 3,000 units at the beginning of August. Total initial cost of the rollout, which also includes 300 hand-held radios, is $17 million.
The main focus is to have the units installed in all 500 pieces of equipment used for snowplowing by the Oct. 30, according to Rich Shaw, assistant commissioner of Maintenance and Operations for the NJDOT. The department's goal is to complete installation for the rest of the fleet by spring 2012.
The ability determine location, speed, and operation, as well as geofencing features, for the vehicles will allow the NJDOT to improve management efficiencies, Shaw said.
Funding for the initial expenditure comes from a line item in the transportation trust fund as well as additional funding from the equipment line item.
Purchasing the radio and GPS at the same time makes sense, "because they're using the same [radio] equipment to transmit the GPS data, so there's not that much additional expenditure needed," Shaw said.
According to Shaw, the NJDOT had been looking for a GPS solution since 2002, but was deterred by cost. The department will be able to use the GPS system by Motorola with minimal monthly cost. Because Motorola was already under contract with the state for communications equipment, the NJDOT was able to use an existing contract and did not have to go out for bid.
The radio system has been in the works for about seven months, part of a Project 25, a national initiative to get interoperability between emergency service providers and public works employees in the event of an emergency. "Motorola was already on board doing this for the state police and was able to offer us the GPS feature of the system. We said, that kills two birds with one stone -- it allows us to get into Project 25 and to track our equipment, so we jumped on board," Shaw stated.
In addition, the department is looking to track its contractor snowplowing fleet by providing hand-held radio units in all its contractors' equipment in order to track them on the system. "It's the easiest, most economical way" to track contractors without installing features on the contractors' equipment, Shaw said. The department is currently working on the purchase order for 1,500 hand-held radios, expected to be completed this week.
By Thi Dao