Newcastle City Councils Neighbourhood Services Directorate has chosen a vehicle tracking and resource allocation product from APD, the UKs leading mobile information specialist.
The new system will allow the Council to work more efficiently, improving the service it provides to citizens and becoming more accountable to them.
One third of the Directorates 660 vehicles have been fitted with INCA, APDs GPS-enabled vehicle tracking units. These represent a cross section of the Directorates fleet and include gritters, mechanical brushes, grass cutters, gulley cleaners, mechanical sweepers and vans. The GPS functionality in the INCA units communicates via trunk radio and mobile phone networks with APD Co-ordinator software installed on computers used by office-based managers to provide real-time information on vehicle location, status (eg working, stationary or travelling) and speed. The vehicle tracking system will also be integrated into the Directorates Call Centre.
Neighbourhood Services will use the vehicle location information to:
- Improve vehicle utilisation by monitoring how many hours a day vehicles are in use
- Improve job allocation by scheduling jobs to vehicles close by
- Improve response times for emergency jobs as the closest vehicle will be able to attend
- Provide extra security for employees through the use of a panic button on the INCA units.
- Demonstrate that it provided a service at a particular location, date and time
- Provide additional verification for insurance claims against the council or vice versa
APD was chosen by Newcastle City Council following a competitive tender process. As well as cost, a user-friendly interface and integration experience with the Councils existing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) platform were important factors in the decision. Nigel Hails, the Director of Neighbourhood Services, comments: APDs solution offers easy integration for us. It is based on software that is similar to our GIS tools and is bearer independent. This is key as when communicating out in the field as, some of our employees use trunk radios and others use mobile phones. With APD both sets of users will be on the same vehicle location system. In addition the interface is so intuitive that training our employees just takes an hour - compared with at least half a day for other solutions.
The project is being supported by the North East Centre of Excellence and the government sponsored NOMAD project. These two organisations will work with Neighbourhood Services to help ensure that the anticipated benefits of the project are delivered. They will also take an active role in the future development of the system.
Nigel Hails adds: This project enables us to know exactly where our staff and vehicles are, and allows us to deploy and manage them more effectively. It will enable us to provide more responsive, productive and cost effective services.