Building the city of the 21st century is all about optimization. Experts predict that 89% of Americans will live in cities by 2050, which comes with unique challenges for infrastructure and sustainability. To accommodate rapid growth and adequately prepare for the future, civic leaders must optimize resources, space, and limited budgets. That’s why so many municipal leaders are embracing smart cities, which rely on connected technologies to aggregate data, automate tasks, and inform better decision-making.
The term “smart city” has become a bit of a buzzword. Cutting through the clutter can be overwhelming, especially since it’s critical to invest in the right technologies to realize the smart city vision. Telematics are at the core of those technologies. Also known as asset tracking technology, it puts real-time data at your fingertips so you can make smart decisions about how you manage your resources and see measurable ROI.
The key is to use asset trackers where they will have the biggest impact. This article will cover the most effective ways to leverage asset tracking technology so you can bring your smart city vision to life.
Locate your assets in real-time
One of the immediate benefits of using asset tracking technology is that it allows you to see where your assets are located at a glance. There’s no need for clunky spreadsheets or paper logs—you can access real-time location data from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. With interactive maps, you can visualize where your assets are and drill down for more data on each item. By spending fewer man-hours on tracking down assets like trailers and construction equipment, you can devote your resources to more productive tasks.
Implement comprehensive routing
GPS data also enables you to improve asset routing. Take waste collection, for example. Improperly planned routes, missed pickups, and staffing constraints reduce the quality of service and increase fuel and maintenance costs. Tracking technology allows dispatchers and fleet managers to visualize routes and identify inefficiencies. It also can help with training and quality assurance. In the field, drivers can see their route using a tablet, which reduces the likelihood of missed pickups, especially if drivers are working an unfamiliar route.
Quickly respond to emergencies
When a major storm knocks out power or turns roads into ice rinks, being able to quickly restore service can be a matter of life and death. Asset trackers enable you to locate equipment like generators and snow removal equipment and efficiently deploy them to where they’re needed. Not only does asset tracking enable you to serve constituents more effectively, but it also helps you reduce the long-term effects of the disaster. Being able to mount a fast, effective short-term response allows you to begin the recovery phase more quickly. Fast response capabilities will be critical in the coming years, as experts predict that extreme weather events are on the rise.
Trackers can also be used to monitor critical assets. For instance, if you already have a generator in place at an essential location, such as a water treatment facility, you can check to see that it’s operational using the asset tracking software. This reduces the time and fuel costs of having to check on assets located in far-flung areas. Instead of having multiple employees in multiple vehicles checking the status of these assets, you can monitor them from a central location, and only send employees where their attention is needed.
Realize operational cost savings
Telematics provide you with a wealth of data—from fuel consumption to driver behavior—that enable you to use vehicles and equipment efficiently. With this data you can reduce operational costs and make strategic moves towards sustainability. When the State of Connecticut installed telematics on 90% of its fleet, it reduced yearly fuel consumption by 18%. The trackers not only helped the state optimize routes for efficiency, they were also a key tool in making the transition to electric vehicles. Asset tracking allows you to capture detailed historical and real-time data for analysis. By analyzing the data collected from each vehicle, the state was able to identify which ones should be replaced with electric vehicles.
You can also use asset trackers to monitor the condition of your vehicles and equipment and implement preventive maintenance programs. Whereas traditional maintenance tasks are performed based on a set schedule, trackers provide you with a wider range of data, such as usage, accelerometer data, and battery performance, so you can schedule maintenance at the ideal time. You may find that, based on usage, some vehicles don’t need oil changes every three months, while others need them more often. Finding the ideal cadence will help reduce both short- and long-term maintenance costs and extend the lifespan of your assets.
Be more proactive
Dealing with vandalism is like a constant game of catch-up. Local governments spend millions of dollars each year repairing and cleaning up broken windows, stolen signage, and graffiti. According to the Department of Justice, $12 billion is spent on graffiti cleanup alone every year. Many of these crimes occur in areas where the general public doesn’t go, or at times when no one is around to report them.
With asset tracking technology, you can be more proactive by spotting unauthorized access right when it happens. You can place sensors on doors, windows, and gates that send automated alerts when triggered. In areas not enclosed by doors or gates, you can use geofencing to monitor activity. In the event of unauthorized access, you can notify police immediately, instead of waiting until you notice something has been vandalized.
Operate a smarter city
Asset tracking technology is essential to bringing smart cities to life. It enables you to discard outdated methods of monitoring your assets so that you can deliver better services to constituents and manage taxpayer funds responsibly. Tracking technology empowers you to proactively plan and allocate resources, instead of reacting to complaints and breakdowns. With better insights into where your assets are located and how they’re being used, you can deploy them more efficiently and make smart decisions about future investments.
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