Mar 06 2023

Cities Turn to Fleet Management Solutions to Confront Severe Weather

Sensors on snowplows and public safety vehicles allow officials to confidently reassure the public of emergency response.

In Syracuse, N.Y., snow typically falls from November to April, dumping significant precipitation on the city for more than five months of the year.

The Syracuse Department of Public Works manages a fleet of 150 snow removal vehicles to clear city streets. To gain visibility into the location of the snow removal vehicles, Syracuse adopted Samsara Vehicle Gateways and AI Dash Cams to gain real-time visibility into the location of snowplows.

Using the Samsara dashboard, Syracuse DPW can see the location of their vehicles on a single pane of glass. Officials can determine the location and status of snowplows, and they can use that information to plan snow-clearing routes. With these tools, workers can determine what has been cleared and optimize the remaining routes. Video and pictures from the dashboard cameras allow real-time observations of conditions on the ground.

With Samsara’s assistance, Syracuse has reduced the volume of citizen complaints about roads that haven’t been cleared of snow by at least 30 percent, officials say. The city vowed to improve its snow response after a bad storm in 2018 resulted in an overwhelming number of calls from the public about unplowed roads. Syracuse improved operations by adopting fleet management solutions for its snowplows. Not only can complaints be resolved quickly but officials can verify or debunk claims of property damage through the snowplow tracking solutions and the onboard cameras.

The city also makes the locations of the snowplows publicly available using geospatial information tools online. This visibility allows citizens to easily check on snowplow status any time.

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Local Governments Respond to Natural Disasters with Fleet Vehicles

Further south, the city of Cocoa, Fla., was able to use fleet management solutions to improve its response to a hurricane.

After Hurricane Matthew swept through Florida some years ago, Cocoa prepared damage assessment vehicles to patrol the city. Using Samsara tools, the damage assessment vehicles surveyed losses and recorded it for officials. With this information, the city was able to identify and repair damage in part by recording its location through its fleet data collection capabilities.

Cities in California have faced a different kind of natural disaster in recent years as they deploy vehicles to combat wildfires. The city of San Jose coordinated its firefighting vehicles with a fleet management solution, equipping its emergency response vehicles with Verizon Connect.

With Verizon's telematics technology, San Jose can stay on top of maintenance, ensuring vehicles are ready to go on demand to fight wildfires. Officials also can track vehicle locations on a live map. And they can use telematics to track the movements of assets to determine whether they have the necessary equipment en route to respond to specific emergencies.

San Jose can track trouble codes registered by its fleet of vehicles and fix them promptly to keep them active. Using fleet management solutions to identify those needed repairs keeps the vehicles ready to roll when lives are on the line.

LEARN ABOUT: The current landscape for AI in state and local government.

First Responders Benefit from Dedicated Fleet Management Solutions

Natural disasters may produce emergency situations that require first responders to rescue citizens and render other assistance. In recent years, public safety agencies have enhanced the benefits of fleet management tools thanks to the nationwide rollout of FirstNet.

AT&T built Fleet Complete for FirstNet over its dedicated network for first responders with Cradlepoint routers. With these tools, officials can not only dispatch police cars and ambulances to the scene of a catastrophe, they can track first responder vehicles to ensure they are on track and in good operating order.

With Fleet Complete, public safety agencies can track vehicles and run diagnostics. They can receive notifications of damage to any vehicles and monitor their maintenance requirements and fuel levels. Stephenson County, Ill., is among the local governments that have equipped their first responders with Fleet Complete.

StateTech recently reported on how the Stephenson County Sheriff's Office makes full use of FirstNet in support of emergency response, and it’s clear that the dedicated spectrum is making a big difference for first responders when bad weather or bad actors strike.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.


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