Large Yellow Snow Plow 2

When snow starts to fall, there’s one thing that’s sure to cross everyone’s mind – “where’s my snow plow?”.

During a storm, it’s easy for citizens to get frustrated, wondering when a snow plow will come by and remove the snow from their streets. Lucky for them, many cities are adopting new technology to communicate this information more effectively to the public, helping improve citizen services.

Cities and municipalities across North America are recognizing the importance of maintaining transparency and accountability with constituents, especially during snow storms. Many are turning to new technology that allows the public to track where snow plows are and which streets have been plowed.

iphone.map01The most common method is through a website where citizens can view a map showing the location of snow plows in their city. Often, the information on these websites utilize the city’s GPS/AVL fleet tracking system, allowing them to use real-time data they already have, but in a form that is accessible to the public. Some examples of cities that have public-facing websites include:

 

Other cities are going a step further and providing the same information on mobile devices through the use of apps. One example is “Buffalo Roads” –  the telematics industry’s first fully integrated mobile application for road status, implemented by the City of Buffalo in collaboration with Webtech Wireless’ Webtech 511 solution. The application, which is available on Apple, Android, and Windows platforms, provides citizens with instant information on road conditions, including when a street was last plowed, and other valuable traffic and news information.

 

APWA Snow Conference

Webtech Wireless will be exhibiting at the APWA Snow Conference next weekend from May 4 – 7 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Be sure to stop by booth #620 to learn more about our solutions, or attend one of our sessions (information below) at the conference.

 

Education Session
Hear directly from public works professionals about the benefits of utilizing mobile and web-based application services to keep constituents informed, using real-time data they already posses.
Date: Sunday, May 4, 2014
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Location: Junior Ballroom C

 

Exhibitor Solutions Theatre
Learn more about Webtech 511 – North America’s first real-time roads app.
Date: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Time: 10:40 – 11:25 am
Location: Trade Show Floor – Booth 1301

This weekend, our team will be in Cincinnati, Ohio for the annual NPTC Conference and Exhibition. Drop by booth #840 to meet our team, grab some swag, and demo our new devices running Webtech Driver Center!

We recently announced the availability of Webtech Driver Center on select tablets – the Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 7.0 and Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0. Make sure to check out the tablet at our booth to learn more about what makes Webtech Driver Center a premier HOS solution.

TS-devices

Two weeks ago the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made the first step towards mandated Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by announcing the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM), which outlines important aspects of the proposed rule. Although the proposal still has to go through a public comment period, followed by agency consideration, the effective date of the rule could be sometime in 2016 – two years after the rule is issued (which some believe could happen later this year). What will the mandated rule mean for organizations and their drivers? See below to find out.

 Mandated-ELDs-v2 

 MDT3500

Current Webtech Wireless customers don’t need to worry about making changes to their solution to remain compliant to the proposed rule. Our current HOS solution includes the use of an in-cab device that works directly with a locator that is installed in the vehicle. The locator gathers location, telematics, and vehicle-diagnostic information and receives data from global positioning satellites (GPS) which together with vehicle information, is transmitted through (GPRS) cellular networks to web-based servers.

 

Introducing Webtech Driver Center

The newest addition to our HOS solution includes the Webtech Driver Center software. Webtech Driver Center is a feature-rich solution built on the versatility and functionality of the Android platform and equipped to solve business challenges including HOS compliancy and eDVIR (Electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports). Customers can choose to run Webtech Driver Center either on one of our rugged in-cab devices (MDT 3500 or 3200), or on select Android tablets, depending on their operational need.

 

NPTC Conference and Exhibition

If you are going to be at next month’s NPTC Conference and Exhibition, make sure to stop by booth #840 to meet our team and demo our newest devices running Webtech Driver Center.

 

Dont-Fence-Me-In

This winter hit the eastern half of North America hardest. One phenomenon making an appearance in the news is increased complaints from citizens about road maintenance. On the one hand they’re grouchy about the lack of snow plows in their areas and, on the other, outraged if a snow plow damages their property. Added to the pile of busted mailboxes, torn up lawns, and eviscerated fences, stories have emerged of restaurant patrons suddenly entombed in snow and pedestrians knocked off their feet by snow passing plows.

From Brooklyn, New York comes this shocking video. Surveillance video captured a pairs of snow plows take out a pedestrian with an “avalanche of snow”. It also caused a couple of thousand dollars in damage to windows at an adjacent car dealership, but the man was unhurt. Still, the drivers are facing disciplinary action for the incident.

Dont-Fence-Me-In-snow

Video courtesy www.nydailynews.com

Not even the media is immune as this New Jersey reporter finds out.

Video courtesy www.theweathernetwork.com

Unlike other Public Works entities, such as sanitation, Winter Operations only comes into the public eye when there’s a significant storm event. This is the reason we ask, “If there’s a situation in your municipality, who finds out first—you, the media, or your constituents?”

511 Services

With the term “polar vortex” now a household phrase across the continent, municipalities are particularly looking to technology to help them defend against not only the elements, but in some cases citizens as well. And as everybody wants more and more information in real-time, citizens too want to know when their snow plow’s coming and other important 511 information that’s normally available but now they want it on their smart phones and other mobile devices.

Enter Webtech 511, the first government app that can vividly show detail snow plow route completion, traffic congestion, parking restrictions, and more while integrating with other established systems including emergency situation alerts and social media.

With responsive five-second reporting, Webtech 511 is the first mobile app specifically designed to provide municipal government data, Webtech 511 brings together all the information on an interactive map, so your constituents can plan their next trip wisely and benefit from real-time updates from you. For more information about our Webtech 511, call us at  +1 (877) 434 4844+1 (877) 434 4844 (Toll Free US/Canada) or email us at info@webtechwireless.com.

Whats-the-worst

“If we let cyclists wander down freeways, there would be a fresh outburst of self-righteousness”, said a Surrey, UK police constable after police video cams captured a cyclist on the M25. As the officers discovered, the cyclist blamed his consumer grade GPS route planner on his phone for directing him onto the M25 motorway, one of England’s busiest. There’s more at stake than self-righteousness, so what’s the worst that can happen with fleet GPS tracking?

Bridges! In Avoiding a Bridge Too Low, I described the infamous bridge in North Carolina, which has spawned a new genre of viral video – the Truck Decapitor! US Senator for New York, Charles E Schumer, went as far as to champion new steps at the Federal level to reduce bridge strikes resulting from a “proliferation of low-grade GPS devices”.

Many consumer grade GPS routing solutions do not take bridge heights into account when routing you to your destination. Also, if you’re carrying hazardous materials, you need a GPS routing system that is hazmat savvy. Consumer grade GPS navigation isn’t even savvy to the type of vehicle you’re driving much less what it’s carrying.

Many municipalities have become sensitive to road congestion caused by truck traffic. Although residents benefit from the jobs and goods trucks bring in, if they feel their way of life is threatened they may become NIMBY at the sight of long queues of trucks on city streets. You need to be able to track your trucks, and in the case of Port of Vancouver, track the trucks of your third-party contractors as well.

Whether you operate cranes or focus on difficult construction projects that involve cranes, yellow iron or remote location work, you want to, first of all, know your workers are safe and, then, that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Many routing solutions only track vehicles and assets that are on road, so you need to ensure they’re tracked wherever they are.

With GPS fleet tracking capabilities for off road tracking, asset tracking, HOS compliance, temperature monitoring, and even passenger load restrictions, Webtech Wireless builds commercial grade GPS/AVL with the capacity to give you the confidence that you’re operating at a standard appropriate to your business requirements.

Next week we’ll be in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Las Vegas Convention Center for CONEXPO-CON/AGG, the largest construction trade show in North America. CONEXPO provides attendees with the opportunity to learn about the latest equipment, technology, and products for the construction industry. Taking place once every three years, over 130,000 people are expected to attend with 2,400 companies exhibiting.

 

Benefits of a Telematics Solution in the Construction Industry

CONEXPO recently published some statistics from the Association of Equipment Management Professionals on telematics usage in the construction industry. According to their stats, asset utilization and maintenance are not only top benefits for current users of a telematics solution, but they are also the top perceived benefits for non-users. While cutting down on costs is important, ensuring that pre-existing assets are performing optimally is also a top priority.

Telematics-Benefits
Image Source: http://conexpoconagg.com/Attendees/ConstructiveThoughts/Issue5/DriversBenefits/ (Constructive Thoughts, Issue 5)

 

Learn More About Webtech Wireless Solutions

Whether you’re looking to track yellow iron, non-powered assets, trailers, or vehicles, Webtech Wireless has the solution to fit your needs. Implementing a trailer and asset tracking solution can help improve productivity and save operating costs.

The Webtech Wireless booth (#64816) will be located in the Technology and Construction Solutions Pavilion in South Hall 2. Stop by and meet members from Sales, Product, and Marketing who can help answer questions and share with you how our solutions have helped companies, like Strike Construction, track millions of dollars worth of equipment as well as plan ahead when they need to take equipment out of service, minimizing the effects it has on their day-to-day operations.

If you want to hear from another one of our customers first-hand, attend the education session “Making a Business Case for Telematics” (Friday at 8:30 am in room N101) to learn from HERZOG Contracting Corp. the benefits of implementing a telematics solutions.

We hope to see you there!

Getting-Value-from-Infrastructure-Puts-Sochi-to-the-Test

From cross-country skiers trekking through the Sochi hills to hurtling bobsleigh athletes, GPS technology is becoming ubiquitous to the Olympics. To compare the increase in GPS infrastructure, the BBC pointed out that the 4:1 ratio at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 has reversed at Sochi this winter. “We made provision for up to 120,000 bandwidth-hungry devices on site per day, equivalent to three gadgets per person”, said Dean Frohwerk, head of [Sochi] networking architecture.

That’s all well and good for athletes and spectators, but what’s the track record on infrastructure projects leading up to the Games? The International Business Times just posted a story, “Sochi Problems In Pictures, which paints a bleak picture of cost and time overruns. There’s even a Twitter account, @SochiProblems, dedicated to following construction headaches.

No matter where you look, big construction projects need to utilize the latest technology to stay on track. Take Strike Construction of Texas for example. While the Sochi Olympics is plagued with incomplete infrastructure projects, Strike is having great success using Webtech Wireless GPS fleet tracking for its construction vehicles in the oil and gas sector. Here’s their story.

Strike goes for Gold

“When you have millions of dollars of mobile assets on the ground often in very remote locations”, said Mike Ward, Manager Fleet Compliance at Strike Construction, “knowing where they are at all times is critical from a management, safety and loss-reduction standpoint”.

Strike is a leading North American provider of pipeline, facilities, fabrication, maintenance and integrity services and they’re found our Quadrant solution to be the best way to track their vast fleet of construction vehicles (such as its yellow iron fleet),, whether in the yard or on remote locations.

“Quality and reliability are what we look for. Webtech Wireless delivers that.”
—A. Cole Pate, Senior Vice President, Strike

Valued at over 80 million dollars, the fleet Ward manages is vast. “It’s a scary feeling whenever you have a three hundred and fifty thousand dollar piece of equipment that you’re unable to find. Being able to click on a button and find it is pretty comforting”, he said.

Watch the Strike GPS Fleet Tracking Video

Getting-Value-from-Infrastructure-Puts-Sochi-to-the-Test-Strike

Stay Ahead of the Competition

Infrastructure contractors don’t want to be seen as another Sochi.  Projects that are not completed on time due to inefficient equipment positioning can reach millions of dollars in losses.  GPS fleet tracking technology creates leaner logistics that save time and money.

CONEXPO-Graphic-Large

 

Franklyn County, Ohio snow removal using InterFleet AVL solution

This week, CBS This Morning put reporter Don Dahler in a New Jersey snow plow to report on how new technology is making plows weather savvy. Several US states are trying out what the media calls “smart” trucks that use sensors to detect dangerous routes and prioritize them.

Like much of the Northeast, New Jersey was just buried under a foot of snow, but the story also travels to Wisconsin to describe a horrific 50-car pile back in December in which one motorist perished. Nearby Michigan is already using advanced technology to turn its snowplows into smart snowplows.

CBS explained to its audience that new sensors can now gauge temperature and humidity as well as road conditions through the vehicles diagnostics. Fleet managers can then combine this and weather data and display the information for each vehicle so supervisors and drivers can have a real-time snapshot of every mile of road trucks have travelled.

While CBS did not mention any particular technology vendor by name, what’s news in the public sphere dates back to 1998 when our InterFleet became the first Internet-based GPS/AVL application in North America to show a live map display of entire winter fleets. InterFleet remains to this day, the #1 solution in North America for GPS winter fleet tracking. Our InterFleet Winter Operations solution is renowned for its five-second locator updates that provide second-by-second reporting.

4-GPS-Fleet-Tracking-Tips-to-Support-Employee-Privacy

In GPS fleet tracking, two of the most powerful arguments to vie for attention (sometimes in opposition to each other) are workplace efficiency and employee privacy.

“The promise of GPS technology for increasing safety and security, reducing congestion, and improving efficiency [is] limitless. Quite simply, GPS has become the enabling technology for transportation.”
—Jeffrey N. Shane, Former Under Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation

The Victoria Times Colonist of British Columbia recently described two rulings that have given the green light “for companies to track employees through cellphones and GPS navigation devices in vehicles”.  While the issue makes its way across Canada’s provincial legislatures, advocates in the US are quick to cite The Fourth Amendment (protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures”) in defence of employee privacy violations by electronic surveillance.  While no US federal statute directly regulates the use of GPS tracking of employees, several US states (notably California, Connecticut, Delaware, and Texas) have adopted laws to regulate electronic employee surveillance, and further changes are afoot in other states.

Why Track Employees?

From an employer vantage point, the quick answer to GPS fleet tracking might be, “Why not? I’ve hired them, they’re driving company vehicles, so I’m entitled to know where they are and what they’re doing, right?” True, but there are also a host of other reasons that make even more sense for tracking employees and assets, especially when they’re on the road.

Safety: As someone responsible for mobile workers, you are at risk whenever they work alone. Research proves that reduced idling, reduced driving speeds, and tracking employee driver behavior through GPS connected telematics helps you identify unsafe driving habits and make corrections. Further, if an employee runs into trouble on the road, GPS tracking can help you save their life.

Productivity: With ever-rising fuel costs, fuel economy is critical to reducing fleet expenses. Our customers continue to report that GPS fleet tracking has substantially improved their productivity through optimized routing, improved customer service, reduced material usage, and improved third-party billing.

Customer service: GPS fleet tracking allows you to monitor scheduled routes from start to finish, to locate mobile assets with precise accuracy, and with that the ability to redeploy vehicles as needed. Your customers will appreciate your improved ability to tell them when their deliveries will appear.

Reputation: From the perspective of your customers, your drivers are the face of your company, so fleet GPS provides you the visibility and accountability you need to know where your vehicles are and how they are performing.

Compliance: From CSA Safety regulation (automated Hours of Service) to IFTA Fuel Taxes to municipally mandated levels of service (in the case of winter operations), a fleet GPS tracking system allows you to comply with a wide range of regulations .

Those are just some of the benefits for you as a company owner. But what of the concerns of employee privacy? In some circles, employees view vehicle tracking as an infringement on their privacy. Here’s what you need to know to implement a fleet GPS tracking solution that doesn’t run you afoul with employee privacy:

1. Know the Regs

Know what laws affect your company. This month Jennifer L. Parent, a lawyer in Massachusetts, blogged specifically about employers monitoring employees using GPS technology. She advised, “Companies choosing to use a GPS type tracking device to monitor employees, at a minimum, should have a clear policy so that employees are aware their whereabouts may be tracked”. Read more.

2. Let them know

Many of the new employee privacy regulations that state and provincial legislators are enacting stipulate that employers must give written notice of electronic monitoring to employees prior to the implementation of a monitoring system.

3. Get their buy-in

Generally speaking, this is common sense. You can’t put a GPS Locator into an employee’s private vehicle without consent, just as you can’t monitor your employees without their knowledge. A related issue is tracking employees during their non-working hours while they’re still in possession of a GPS-enable device.

4. Be specific

There should be a legitimate business reason for tracking employees’ movements using GPS technology. GPS technology is a business solution that saves companies millions through cost reductions and work optimization. It’s not for lurking. Ensure you have clear objectives for GPS tracking.

GPS fleet tracking isn’t Big Brother if it’s used authentically to gather the business data you need to improve your operations. It’s about visibility and ultimately that visibility helps everyone do their jobs better.

Detroit-Weathers-Through-with-Technology-Innovations
Recently, WXYZ Detroit reporter Kimberly Craig ran an upbeat story designed to cheer up Detroit motorists braving the worst winter in recent memory.

The story described the new phone app that Wayne County has deployed to help commuters stay informed about road services throughout greater Detroit. While WXYZ station anchors watched, Kim reported live from the snowy streets and showed how this new app, wcCompass,  was helping her check snow plow cameras for roads conditions, closures, and other information strategic to winter driving.

A key feature is the clever use of blue icons to show truck locations, and green icons to show if the truck is equipped with video camera. As Kimberly said, “The green colored truck icons mean the truck is outfitted with a live camera to give you a virtual ride-a-long.”

While Wayne County deployed the live video truck feeds itself, it relied on our InterFleet technology for its data transfer service that in turn populated the content the public accesses through computers or smart devices. It is, in effect, an in-house version of Webtech 511. This is just another example of the versatility InterFleet is capable of even with an otherwise client-driver implementation.

In an age of instant shared information, municipalities are increasingly turning to solutions like our Webtech 511—the first government app that can vividly show detail road conditions (snow plow route completion, traffic congestion, parking restrictions)—to serve their constituents.

For more information about our Webtech 511, call us at:

Toll Free (US/Canada)     +1 (877) 434 4844+1 (877) 434 4844

General Email     info@webtechwireless.com