Telematics streamlines data collection and analysis for government vehicle management – GCN
Telematics Streamlines Data Collection and Analysis for State Vehicle Management
The Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) has eliminated the paper-based tracking and recording of inspectors’ vehicles in the field by equipping them with telematics sensors that collect data and send it to the cloud for analysis.
Until about a year ago, OEMS Fleet and Logistics Administrator Frank Cheatham collected various paper reports to monitor inspectors who roam the state’s 42,774 square miles to verify training, certification and credentials of state emergency medical personnel.
For example, âEvery time they bought fuel, they had to write it down in the journal. Then they would be required to send me the receipt so that I could put it in a spreadsheet, âCheatham said. âWhen we received the invoice twice a month, the tax specialists could justify the invoice in relation to the purchases. “
Now, a tracking device is installed in each vehicle or asset such as a trailer. The device determines the location of the vehicle with GPS and can collect data on engine fault codes. The systems also monitor driver behavior using a built-in accelerometer to detect changes in speed, acceleration and braking.
All of this data is transmitted to the CalAmp cloud via a cellular network. Location updates are typically sent every 30 seconds, for every left or right turn, or when it sees that a vehicle is accelerating. Vehicle and asset information is displayed in CalAmp iOn fleet management software on an Esri map, and customer data, such as utility shutoff valves, can be added to the map to provide information. additional to the fleet manager.
The system allows inspectors to send photos of fuel receipts from their cellphones, reducing the burden of paperwork, Cheatham said. “The monthly newspaper has been deleted [and] Iâ¦ could go into the system and watch any particular day if someone asked the question: What was this vehicle doing? Where was this fuel purchase made? ” he said. “I could watch [the driverâs] follow for the day and find him.
Likewise, inspectors previously had to keep track of the date, time and tolls they paid when passing a toll booth, a cumbersome and potentially dangerous task, but necessary to reconcile toll expenses on E-ZPass. .
OEMS solved this problem with geofencing. Using the iOn software, Cheatham can and configure a geofence by clicking a point on a map and dragging a circle, rectangle, or polygon around an area. Then the system will generate reports and display on the dashboard information about vehicles entered and exited geo-fenced toll limits.
âWith geofencing, we are able to come back quickly if asked and check and make sure the load was appropriate,â Cheatham said.
He also used the system several times when field representatives called about a check engine light. Using the software, Cheatham can extract fault codes and share them with a mechanic to determine if the vehicle could be immediately parked, brought to a local mechanic, or towed to headquarters.
CalAmp provides the complete solution, including hardware, software and hosting. When a tracking device is installed in a vehicle, it pairs with GPS satellites; captures vehicle data such as brake frequency and force, engine speed and condition; then sends that information to the CalAmp cloud. There, the data is analyzed and dashboards, reports and alerts are generated. Because it is cloud-based, the system can be accessed on desktops, laptops, and smartphones.
The data is used to track driver behavior, vehicle maintenance, and overall system health – which tracking areas are performing well.
âThe system is still extracting and capturing data,â said Bill Westerman, vice president of production management at CalAmp. âThere is nothing that can be done for the system to work. Once plugged in and configured, it still captures data and sends updates. Location updates are sent typically every 30 seconds. Any kind of activity like speeding would be sent in real time as it happens, and all of that information is collected and managed in our system, âhe said.
âThe idea is to provide a system to be managed by exception so that you don’t necessarily need to have someone sitting in front of a computer all the time,â he added. âYou can get alerts, you can get worst-to-first reports. Reports can be scheduled. They can be sent to someone’s email address.
One challenge that has arisen is cell coverage, Cheatham said. At the time of our interview on September 21, he was able to see data on a vehicle in rural southwest Virginia, but information on a vehicle in downtown Richmond was blocked.
To address this issue, OEMS will add signal boosters to the eight to 10 solar-powered trailers equipped for cellular connectivity that it is about to roll out statewide.
Although Cheatham said he hasn’t determined how much time the technology is saving him or the field representatives, “the enthusiasm of the field representatives was enough to tell us it was working.”