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Running a council is no easy task. Few, if any, ratepayers are happy to see their quarterly bills, but they are even less thrilled when the garbage collections don’t happen. In addition, many councils now have their eye on investing in building smart cities. Consequently, it’s vital that you not only collect the revenue you are entitled to, but spend it wisely.

Unless there’s rapid growth or other reasons for service or infrastructure investment, chances are, your council is pretty much on its own when it comes to funding. According to the Australian Local Government Association, councils generate almost 90 per cent of their own revenue through things such as rates and service charges.

Wasted money or collection shortfalls hamper your ability to deliver much needed community services and put the dampeners on activities that make your council area a desirable place to live. Integrating GPS fleet tracking services with sensors and other technology lets you collect the data to deliver the services residents need at a price you can afford.

Improved Service Delivery

From waste collection to building inspections, graffiti management and services for people with limited mobility, such as Meals on Wheels or home library visits, your council puts many vehicles on the roads. With the ability to know where each vehicle is at any given time, the closest vehicle can be directed to each job and advised of the fastest route. This not only keeps costs down, but increases the number of jobs that can be completed in a day. In the case of waste collection, you can even devise collection routes so that the point at which a truck will most likely be full is when it’s closest to the drop-off site, minimising unnecessary trips.

Improved Reporting

Like most organisations, councils collect plenty of data, but the challenge is making sure it can be used. Most of us have moved on from paperwork, which could be lost or delayed by the need for manual entry, but there are further benefits from systems where information collected in the field is seamlessly integrated into enterprise resource planning software. With access to real-time data, decisions are made based on what’s happening now, not in the past, and use all the relevant information.

Mobility

Council rangers. The name says it all. From those tasked with investigating complaints and enforcing local laws, to other types of jobs, such as building inspectors, councils have many employees who spend minimal, if any time in the office. The ability to seamlessly relay information to the back-office as its collected speeds processes. Of course, information is a two-way street and the ability to access geo-spatial data so they know exactly where property boundaries lie also makes their job easier.

Better Customer Services

With sensors and chips collecting information, it’s easier to know how to respond to an inquiry. If a resident phones to ask why, perhaps, their bin has not been collected, a customer service operator can see there has been a delay but the truck is only four blocks away.

Safety

GPS fleet tracking can track speed and other poor driving, such as harsh braking, to improve safe operations. Some councils, especially in remote areas where workers operate alone, provide employees with panic buttons for both their vehicle and themselves. Solid-state gyroscopic sensors can detect when a vehicle, such as a ride on lawn mower, might have rolled and send an alert along with location information.

Accurate Information

Many councils are considering ways that they can more accurately charge ratepayers for the services they used. With most modern wheelie-bins equipped with RFID chips, it’s conceivable that something like garbage collection could be moved to a user pays model. GPS tracking can assist with weight measurement and determining ownership of the bin so that households that minimise wastage do not pay as much as those that create a lot of rubbish.

Monitoring

In a system with as many moving parts as local government, a lot of time is spent ensuring everything is running as it should be. The bigger or more remote the service area it is, the harder this becomes. Instead of someone driving around to manually check infrastructure or other council property, sensors can be used to monitor functionality. When a bin in a park or other public place is overflowing with garbage, it’s not a good look and is bad news for the environment. Bins equipped with ultrasonic level sensors that measure how full they are, automatically “checking-in” with council vehicles that drive by and using them to send an alert to base that it needs emptying. One innovative approach to monitoring which roads need repairs is to mount a vibration and ball bank sensor underneath council vehicles that regularly travel a certain route, which tracks any degradation of the road quality.

Asset Use and Maintenance

Councils own or rent a lot of equipment and they need to know where it is and how it is being used. Tracking devices make all this easier and with an ability to drill down into information such as engine hours, managers can invest resources as needed and schedule jobs better. The trackers can also integrate with maintenance management modules to make sure equipment is serviced as needed with minimal disruptions.

Summary

Without the funds to splash around, councils can struggle to deliver the services ratepayers expect. A network of smart technology powered by a GPS fleet management system is a cost effective way to deploy resources where they are needed most.

To learn more about how integrating GPS fleet management can benefit you download our Connecting The Dots eBook

Daron Brinsdon is a National Integration Solutions Manager at Teletrac Navman.

Daron Brinsdon is National Integration Solutions Manager at Teletrac Navman. With a passion for technology, Daron spends all his time tirelessly with clients who are in need for a custom, integrated GPS solution. If he's not out developing the latest switch to extract data from pieces of plant or machinery that will improve the operation of your business, you'll find him kite surfing.