176 – In-vehicle GPS – Part 2: How every council can have it.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              550 words


In part one I discussed the features and benefits of in-vehicle GPS. Because councils deliver services at locations dispersed across a large geographic area and vehicle ownership is expensive and utilization is often low, in-vehicle GPS has the potential to provide significant benefits. It links the planning undertaken in asset maintenance systems to in-field work planning and delivery to ensure that resources are used efficiently to complete the planned work. The key barrier has been how to get in-vehicle GPS installed in all vehicles.

I think the trick to implementing in-vehicle GPS is the strategy and policy sitting behind it. Here are some tips.

To begin, ask the council to include investigation and introduction of the technology in the Council Plan. Political support is important to ensure an adequate budget (it may initially cost several hundred thousand dollars for a large fleet with annual software costs and in-house administration support costs). It also shores up support at the highest level in the event of industrial relations issues.

Close on the heels of council support is support of the Executive. They will be directly affected by the implementation of in-vehicle GPS and need to be on board. Make sure they understand the implications for them personally (typically as private users of council vehicles) and as organisational leaders.

The key is to start with the CEO and executive vehicles. This is easily justified for most councils because these vehicles are a key part of the shared vehicle pool available to all staff – and there are never enough vehicles available!   Starting here immediately provides benefits for the majority of staff through a better vehicle pool service. No one will argue with that, even the executives with private use, and staff will be better resourced to do their work. Starting with executive vehicles also overcomes the ‘goose and gander’ problem with operational staff feeling they are being treated differently and disadvantaged.

The next step is to develop an integrated policy framework. Three policies are required; the first is for the use of the in-vehicle GPS; the second is for private vehicle use for work purposes, and the third is for council motor vehicle use.

The in-vehicle GPS policy needs to cover the privacy protection required. Most countries have privacy and surveillance laws that must be observed. It also needs to describe the data to be collected, the purpose in collecting the data, driver agreement requirements, and, most importantly, how data will be accessed and used. Get this right and consult through your organizations agreed processes, and you are half way to having an in-vehicle GPS system.

The private vehicle use policy needs to manage the risks in people ‘bringing their own devices’. Some people will choose not to use council vehicles when in-vehicle GPS is fitted and then the requirements for maintenance, safety and payment for use of their personal vehicle used for work needs to be clear.

Similarly, some staff eligible for private use of a council vehicle will request a novated lease. If this is an option, the motor vehicle policy needs to be clear about the expectations of staff who take it up. For example, will they be paid mileage or an allowance? Will they be able to use pool cars?

The last tip is that once you get started, keep on going. Make sure that you don’t run out of money and don’t stop for minor matters.