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Durham County Council have entered into a contract with Microlise, the Nottingham based systems integrator for supply chain execution, to improve the efficiency and safety of their operations through the use of in-vehicle tracking and telematics on their fleet of 500 vehicles

The first phase of the contract with Microlise will equip parts of the Service Direct division including 18 gritters, 2 street lighting and 26 general maintenance vehicles with Microlise In-vehicle Computers (IVC). These units pinpoint the vehicle's location using a GPS satellite receiver and transmit this in real-time back to the operations offices via GPRS wireless data telecommunications. Within the Durham operations offices, Microlise Map Client software gives council personnel real-time visibility of the geographic location of each vehicle, its direction, speed and the route it has travelled. In the case of vehicles with hoists or road gritters, the unit also monitors hoist operation or when the grit spreading equipment is operating.

In addition, the vehicles have also been fitted with Lone Worker units which connect via a radio link into the IVC on the vehicle.  When an alarm is received the system can generate a choice of actions to either take control of the Microlise client screen, send an email or sms message. With the position accurately known, the council have procedures in place culminating in emergency services being called to the driver's aid.

The initial vehicles are being run as a pilot and it is Service Direct's intention to review the activities of the remainder of the fleet with a view to extending the system where appropriate.
Vivien Wiley, Head of Engineering Services (Assistant Director) of Service Direct commented, "We have a duty of care to our employees and the Lone Worker units will increase the level of safety for them while performing their tasks.  The added advantages of the system are that we will be able to provide proof of routes which will allow us to successfully defend insurance claims and at the same time maximise resource utilisation."
Matthew Hague, Product Director for Microlise added, "Microlise's pedigree lies within supply chain execution. However, our mobile worker and vehicle tracking portfolio is generating a great deal of interest from a wide range of local authorities. Councils, like many of our customers, realise that improved visibility aids in the better planning, control and utilisation of resources in all areas of their operation and helps to ensure they can maximise efficiency within their often tight operational budgets"

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