By Joel Waithman
Last week, along with Nigel Maund, Walt Fischer and others from Webtech Wireless, I attended NAFA in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I’m sure it’s a fun place in the summer, but in April there wasn’t much to distract me from the trade show (except perhaps a visit to the roulette table).
While at the conference, I attended an excellent presentation called, “Breakthrough Technologies and Future Trends for Fleet Telematics”, which described how telematics is going to impact fleet management in the next few years. The format of the presentation was a panel of four telematics specialists (responsible for huge fleets such as ARI) and a moderator. They fielded about ten questions and spent about ten minutes answering each question, except for one: The big question on everyone’s mind was distracted driving. This topic consumed a whole hour of the presentation time with many people from both commercial and government fleets weighing in on different points. Questions included, “How can we solve it?”, “Are we invading the privacy of the driver?”, and “What applications are available?”
So, gambling may be a fine distraction in Atlantic City, but no one’s gambling on distracted driving. One commenter compared cell phone use while driving to gun ownership. After all, a vehicle is potentially as lethal to operate, so some form of regulation is needed to ensure people use it properly. But is it the responsibility of governments to enforce? Some government operators suggested that unions might resist (unless required to comply by government regulations) while others embraced the idea (particularly commercial operators who shoulder a great deal of responsibility regardless of whether cell phones are used for private or company purposes). Everyone was aware of the Coca-Cola settlement of last year that set a precedent across the board for companies to monitor their drivers’ cell phone habits more closely.
On a lighter note, this year AT&T set up a demo car on the trade show floor equipped to demonstrate the risks of distracted driving. To try it, we put on special goggles that simulated a driver’s view and then we were given a cell phone to type on while driving. The demo could measure our level of distraction using graphs that measured speed fluctuations as we texted. People who tried the simulation were surprised by how distracted they became.
These experiences reminded me how critical our Webtech Wireless MDTs with hands-free voice are to preventing distracted driving. Even our auditory alert warnings (such as on the Accelerometer) to warn of excess speed, braking, and other erratic driving behavior ensure safety by keeping drivers focused on driving rather than texting. There are many ways to be distracted nowadays, but it’s in no one’s interest to gamble on road safety.
You can be a global leader in technology, such as GPS/AVL, and yet few in your home town, province, state, or country know about your success. And the people who make that possible. Scott Edmonds, President & CEO of Webtech Wireless is a tireless promoter of technology in BC. Not only does he serve on the board of the British Columbia Technology Industry Association, he attends events and engages with people in the community to talk about these amazing facts:
We recently hosted a visit by Adrian Dix, Leader of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia, along with several Members of the BC Legislature. Our goal was to showcase a BC technology success story that has been part of the overall growth of the technology sector in BC. We shared our success stories such as how Dement Construction Improves Productivity, Canadian Pacific Drives Efficiencies with Quadrant, and Award Winning Solutions Win the Day…and the Night! The last is the story of how we jointly won the BCTIA Adoption of Technology 2013 Award by helping Troyer Ventures stay competitive in the oil and gas sector.
All this growth and success is only possible because of the people that work in the technology sector, including here at Webtech Wireless. We thank Bill Tam, President & CEO of the BCTIA for letting us showcase our facilities and successes as part of the amazing BC technology growth story.
The air is colder, holiday themed songs are playing on the radio and images of St. Nick are everywhere. Yes, it is that time of year. With the holidays just around the corner, it really is time to think how we can enjoy the festivities while saving a few bucks. So stop looking under the driver’s seat, office desk or couch for a few extra pennies and try a few simple techniques to save a few dollars during the holidays and after!
If you are a fleet owner, you know that the cost of running an operation is rising drastically. Monitoring driver behavior, optimizing fleet performance and trailer tracking are just a few things that can leave a bit more money in your pocket.
As a fleet owner, finding ways to run your operations efficiently while using your resources effectively saves you money. Most drivers aren’t aware that harsh breaking, sharp turns and speeding account for most fuel wastage. Identifying poor driver behavior with reporting tools in Quadrant Manager will help you pro-actively train your drivers to reduce fuel consumption.
Drivers spend a significant amount of time waiting for dispatch to manually send driver instructions for their next pickup or delivery. All that wasted time turns into dollars and adds to the cost of running a fleet. Webtech Wireless’ Job Management solution allows dispatch release instructions automatically, getting drivers off their phone (saving talking time and talking minutes) and sending them to their next destination quicker.
Equipment that isn’t monitored is at the mercy of trespassers and kleptomaniacs. The Quadrant Trailer Tracking solution can detect unauthorized movements and show you where your trailers are in real-time.
Multi-zone temperature monitoring is a small solution that reaps huge benefits. Did you know that 40% of all food produced in the United States is wasted? And of that 20% is wasted through spoilage during distribution? Prevent food wastage and save dollars by getting real-time alerts when temperatures go above or below a set threshold.
Whether you are in a large building or a basement suite, office space and equipment costs money, a lot of money. Being pro-active and cautious can easily help you reduce overhead and see savings.
Turn the computer off. That’s it. Turning off the computer at the end of the day is the easiest thing you and your staff can do save money and energy. If you work off of a power strip, don’t forget to turn that off as well. According to a 2009 survey, a company with 10,000 desktop computers (powered up but not being used) will waste $260,000 in energy a single year. It is simple, easy and a great step to going green in the office.
Think twice before you print that document in color on a single side of paper. Printing one or two sheets is not expensive, but when you are going through boxes and boxes of paper, printing becomes a pricey line item. Set your printer’s defaults to economy, black and white and double sided and watch your ink and paper consumption go down. Awesome way to save a few bucks, and you probably save a few trees too.
Competition is steep and the market is competitive. A great strategy to save money is to keep true to your vendors. Long lasting relationships with various suppliers and vendors result in multiple benefits including great customer service, bulk order discounts and promotions for loyal customers.
December brings along a lot of happy moments, holiday parties, Christmas trees, great food, desserts galore and a couple of extra inches around the hips. However, every January you pay the price—those jeans feel a bit snug and have burned a little whole in the pocket. Here are a few easy tips to help you save during the holiday season!
If you are like me, the sight of beautiful wrapping getting torn off a present and then immediately getting dumped into the recycling bin makes you cringe. I am all for great packaging (I’m in marketing after all—and a graphic designer) but trust me, you can achieve the same visual appeal in other ways. How about using brown paper bags? Or a few pages from a magazine or the comic section of the newspaper? Re-using things that you already have around the house is a great way to get rid of junk and save money.
If you are part of a large extended family like me, buying presents for everyone can increase the digits on your credit card bill. Why not try Secret Santa? It allows you to focus on getting something special for that one person and also adds the extra fun of who has whom.
Hit the malls early, I mean really early. By shopping early you are able to compare prices, avoid impulse buys and get quality gifts without settling for whatever is left at the store.
This winter, thousands of locals and visitors alike will don their skates and glide effortlessly along the Rideau Canal Skateway, a highlight of winter in Ottawa and the world’s longest skating rink. At 7.8 kilometres long, the Rideau Canal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s best known as a winter wonderland as it wends its way from the steps of Canada’s majestic parliament buildings through the heart of downtown Ottawa and finally winds up at Dows Lake skating rink.
Unlike many cities, Ottawa comes to life in the winter when the frozen canal becomes the focus of winter festivities such as its Christmas Lights across Canada, featuring over 300,000 multi-coloured lights, and its popular Winterlude, held in February, make Ottawa a winter destination. For most city Public Works departments, winter is the time to prevent streets from becoming the world’s longest skating rink. But Ottawa’s got that handled too.
In 2009, The City of Ottawa implemented the Webtech Wireless InterFleet winter operations solution for government fleets, because it supports an extensive array of sensor integrations (road temperature sensors, spreader controllers, plow sensors) and boasts ten-second reporting and turn-by-turn navigation. With InterFleet, it gained visibility into how much salt its third-party contractors were using and with that came the ability to identify excess salt. Not surprisingly, by reducing excess salt usage, the City reduced its salt costs by 20%.
“Installing GPS technology in our salt spreader vehicles is a great way to help us reduce the amount of road salt we use, and reduce costs at the same time,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien, “By installing these systems, we will both prolong the life of City infrastructure and keep more money in the pockets of Ottawa taxpayers.”
Due to its negative impact on the environment, particularly drinking water supplies, the City of Ottawa actively encourages residents and snow removal contractors to reduce the rock salt they use. Ottawa’s Public Works Department is always looking for innovative means to reduce salt usage and it found GPS technology linked to its electronic salt spreader controllers to be one of the most effective ways to track salt usage. It actively promotes the Smart About Salt Council to increase awareness about eliminating rock salt and using resources more effectively.
Ten-second real-time reporting provides supervisors with the information they need to handle winter effectively. No matter where they are—the office, home, or vehicle—supervisors can respond immediately to events as they unfold, confident that the information they are looking at in their InterFleet solution is completely accurate and up to date.
So, when the temperature drops this winter, it’s time to celebrate!
Check the skating conditions on the Rideau Canal Skateway.
Find out more great ideas about things to see and do when you visit Ottawa and Gatineau this winter at Canada’s Capital Region!
Photos courtesy of National Capital Commission
For the last year, my son Allen has been learning how to drive. As Bill Graves, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association said recently at the ATA Conference, “There is nothing like teaching your child to drive to make you prepared for anything”. I know what Bill means.
In 2004, we purchased a VW Jetta car with a five-speed manual transmission. In Canada and the US, automatic transmissions are the norm, but in much of the rest of the world manual transmissions are what you get. My wife Karalee and I decided that we wanted each of our children to have the life skill of being able to drive a manual transmission. Allen is the third that I have taught to drive a standard.
Vancouver is a hilly place so being able to safely drive a manual transmission car requires the ability to work the clutch, throttle, and emergency brake in one smooth motion. Like his brother and sister, I started Allen off in a flat parking lot teaching him the process as it was taught to me. While stopped with the emergency brake on, release the clutch until the nose of the car dips slightly. At that point start releasing the emergency brake, while smoothly releasing the clutch and pressing on the accelerator. Sounds easy in theory. Hard in reality. Allen had to successfully complete ten starts in a row without stalling before I allowed him on the public roads.
Since those first faltering stop-and-go starts in the parking lot, we have gone on to practical driving. Allen’s route to school matches mine to work and for the last year Allen has driven me to the drop-off point. Every day has been a learning opportunity as Allen worked his way through busy morning traffic. While there were a few close calls along the way, Allen has steadily developed as a driver. He was thrilled when—unlike his brother and sister—he passed his on-the-road driving test the very first try.
Successful telematic deployments are much like Allen’s experience of learning how to drive. Organizations that excel with their GPS/AVL fleet tracking solutions, start by investing in training and education of the solution and what impact it will have on the people in the organization. A pilot implementation lets everyone have a few stalls without seriously impacting the learning process. And when the day comes to fully deploy one of our solutions on the road, the organization succeeds from the very first moment. Through the whole process, your drivers are kept safe. That’s how we measure success.
For 60 seconds around 2pm Eastern on Thursday, November 8, Facebook went down. The Twitter world went wild and oddly enough, this forced people to stop liking and tagging and actually start working. Just for the record, I wasn’t on Facebook. I was working at 2pm Eastern.
The entire Facebook thing got me curious about our daily dependence on technology. When Facebook—the number one time waster in the United States—went down, my guess was that few people were drastically impacted. Granted, it was only down for a few minutes, but hypothetically, if Facebook were inaccessible for 24 hours, how many lives would really be at stake?
My guess is none.
There are jobs though, where if the technology wasn’t working, it is a big deal—a very big deal. Most obvious are the medical and armed forces fields, but for fleet managers, knowing where your workers, drivers and assets are is also critical. As a provider of technologies that use cellular networks, Webtech Wireless delivers this critical information so fleet managers can track vehicle locations in real-time, observe engine diagnostics, and report on a wide range of other telemetry information.
Our customers have shared that their drivers often travel to remote areas where cellular networks are not reliable and drivers go in and out of cell coverage. Working with accurate data is important to dispatchers and without that information, workflow can be compromised. If cellular networks go down, customers don’t have to worry about lost data with Webtech Wireless Locators installed. A Locator may be a very small device, but its powerful engineering ensures that it continues to record data so that when the vehicle is back in cell coverage, the data is automatically synchronized. Similarly, person-to person communications such as dispatch orders sent through the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT), are stored and transmitted when cellular connectivity is restored.
Webtech Wireless recognizes that customers have special needs and they require solutions that meet those needs. These recording and storing capabilities permit businesses to continue to run smoothly and efficiently even if connectivity goes down.
So, Facebook can go down and Twitter can go wild, but Webtech Wireless ensures that your information is accurate, stored, and accessible.
Stay connected with Webtech Wireless—Award-Winning Solutions for Fleet Management
Alkesh Dhak, Installation Support Specialist at Webtech Wireless, spends his day coordinating installations throughout North America, training and supporting third-party service providers, performing installations for local customers, assisting with beta testing and new developments. Here is his story about how the Webtech Wireless Locator helped saved the day when fighting a case in a motor vehicle claim.
As Webtechers, we hear every day the remarkable things that our telematics solutions have done for our customers. From saving money, to increasing productivity and even helping to comply with government regulations, we know the great value our solutions have to offer.
On his way home from the grocery store one evening, Alkesh was hit by an oncoming minivan that failed to stop at a four-way stop. Luckily, Alkesh did not experience any major injuries and reported the accident immediately. However, the impact had done a significant amount of damage on the passenger side of the vehicle.
When he called his insurance agency to report the accident, the adjustor claimed that the lack of witnesses, the location and nature of the impact did not provide enough information to recreate the accident nor provide enough proof that he had made a complete stop and that the minivan had ran through the stop sign.
He knew that he had stopped, looked both ways and proceeded through the intersection within the speed limit, and wanted to prove that he was not at fault. After the collision, Alkesh signed on to Quadrant Manager and pulled up the Trip Recorder report on his vehicle.
Alkesh—along with several other employees—often test out our products by placing them on their vehicles and running tests and pilots to ensure the products Webtech Wireless delivers to its customers are of the highest quality.
Attached to Alkesh’s car was the WT7000 Locator that was recording his direction, speed and location, second by second. When he pulled up the Trip Recorder report, he had hard proof that his vehicle had made a complete stop and had proceeded through the intersection at a safe speed.
Alkesh provided this evidence to an external agency that judged the case. The agency included former adjustors, traffic cops and several other professionals from road and safety. They were all fascinated with the data that the Locator was able to produce and amazed at the level of accuracy and detail. They claimed that it was sufficient information to recreate the accident and prove that the driver of the minivan had not made a stop at the four way intersection.
With the Locator, Alkesh was able to extract the information he needed from Quadrant Manager to prove his safe driving habits. Quadrant Manager’s Trip recorder report along with its several other reports can help monitor driving habits such as speeding identify GPS location and to provide performance information from the vehicle’s ECM.
For anyone who saw the irreverent film, Freakonomics (“the hidden side of everything”), knows that we’re now collecting data on a vast scale. The stories that are emerging from all this data are remarkable. Who knew that, with this accumulation of data, we could prove Sumo wrestlers were cheating or that the reasons politicians cited for falling crime rates were wrong?
At the TMW 2012 Transforum this week in Orlando (attended by 1,700 vendors and customers), a key theme was, “how do we draw intelligence from data?” According to TMW Senior Project Manager, Michael Malecha in his session on business improvement, “We have 86% more data than even just two years ago, but how do we draw meaning from it?” He also stated that 93% of CEOs believe they are losing opportunities from a lack of tools to handle this data.
Since all data sets contain noise, the secret is in discerning the noise from the signal. The signal, of course, refers to meaningful trends.
His cautionary message is simple:
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (speaking neither as politician nor as pastor and pictured above) decried the state of personal accountability when he said, “We’ve created a monster”. Sometimes, the gathering of data can be seen as a monster—Big Brother tracking our every move. But business intelligence (knowing how to draw meaningful conclusions from information), serves the needs of small to medium companies just as it does large—if they know what to do with it.
In order to optimize fleet operations and enhance financial performance, fleet managers often turn to automation. Initially, the desire is for dot-on-a-map visibility of their vehicles. Using GPS/AVL technology, they collect location and sometimes diagnostic data in real-time. As the data accumulates, managers may want to report on it, such as exception reporting to filter out only data that doesn’t conform to expected norms. Data then starts to fulfill a more complex need: analyzing trends to facilitate better cost projections (such as optimizing fuel usage), and route planning. Finally, with data streaming in from multiple third-party sources, they can integrate information to discover complex relationships between external events and internal actions. This is the essence of business intelligence.
TMW CEO, David Wangler, in the general session keynote speech emphasized this point when he said, “It’s no longer the big who eat the small, but the fast who eat the slow”. In other words, becoming leaner and more efficient enables us to outmanoeuver the competition. Your GPS/AVL fleet tracking solution is sending you real-time data that not only provides you with visibility here and now, but down the road, will enable you to see trends and anticipate opportunities.
Perhaps as a fitting representation of the need to draw intelligence from data, the TMW awards gala was warmed up by Jean Francois, the Quebec-based visual artists who drew fantastical pictures for everyone while dinner was served. Accompanied by pulsing rock music, the images appeared abstract and confusing at first until he ceremoniously turned them over (new right-side up) and delighted everyone with images of the Statue of Liberty and a long-haul truck.
In 1912, when Thomas Wilby set out from Halifax, Nova Scotia in his four-cylinder REO Special bound for Canada’s distant west coast, he knew his arrival in Victoria, British Columbia would mark the first time anyone successfully crossed Canada by automobile. It took two months. Last week, across Canada (and around the world), runners laced up and prepared to pay respect for another great Canadian, Terry Fox. Webtech Wireless employees also took part in the Terry Fox Run, a run that in some ways also commemorates transportation in Canada. This is the story of a Canadian hero and legend who joined a nation in his Marathon of Hope—to find a cure cancer.
Owing to its geographical size (second only to Russia), Canada has historically been challenged to provide a high level of communications to a relatively small population spread across a vast land. This is the reason highways were so important to Canada’s emergence as a leader in the post-war period. Like the Federal-Aid Highway Act in the United States, Canada’s Trans-Canada Highway Act paved the way to build the transportation infrastructure needed to move the bounty of natural resources to waiting ports and to move people—including new immigrants—around a continent untouched by war.
But unlike the United States, Canada has always been a one-highway nation and that highway is the Trans-Canada Highway stretching 7,821 kilometres (4,859 miles) from St. John’s, Newfoundland in the east to Victoria, British Columbia in the west. It is this highway that 22-year-old Terry Fox set out to conquer and set the stage for conquering cancer too. In 1980 with little initial fanfare, he aimed west with his skip-hop-run that would later became his signature (he’d already lost his right leg to cancer) he began his long journey. Sometimes, it’s said that his journey was cut short by a return of the cancer that eventually killed him, but when he was forced to stop near Thunder Bay, Ontario, he had completed 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles) of his journey. That’s almost two Tour de Frances or 1½ times across Australia.
With a total of 17 runners, the two Canadian Webtech Wireless offices (Webtrekkers) ran in Toronto’s High Park and Vancouver’s Stanley Park to raise a total $5,496.62 for the Terry Fox Foundation. Congratulations to all.
Once just a small town with a vision, the City of Vaughan is growing fast. Located north of Toronto, current projections show that its population is expected to almost double by 2030. For the City of Vaughan to keep up with growth in this region of overlapping jurisdictional responsibilities, it must find ways to get the most out of its technology investment.
According to Shawn McKenzie, Senior Engineering Assistant at Public Works, “It’s a barrel of monkeys for residents to understand and to many residents, anyone with a plow blade is a City truck,” so Public Works must manage public perception as well as public roadways. In the future, the ability to share data among different jurisdictions will increasingly clarify public perceptions of who’s doing what.
Recently, Public Works mandated that its third-party contractors use GPS/AVL Locators, thereby enabling it to track how efficiently both its primary suburban and secondary rural roads are maintained across different seasons. This decision keeps contractors accountable and citizens content. As proof of reduced complaints, its initial Webtech Wireless deployment calling for a “Where’s my Plow?” Web site and Call Centre, became so efficient that as calls dropped away, it eliminated the need for a Call Centre altogether.
Today, the City of Vaughan has realized the great opportunity that is intrinsic in a GPS/AVL solution and, with hundreds of vehicles now equipped and reporting, the word is spreading. The City of Vaughan’s Parks Board (with a fleet of sidewalk plows), has just adopted a Webtech Wireless solution for its vehicles too.
“When we make appointments to send our water trucks to an address and the client isn’t there, the driver needs to move on to the next appointment. If someone claims the water truck never came, we can prove the site call was made.”
— Shawn McKenzie, Public Works, City of Vaughan