Transforming the way the world works

Putting GPS To Work



If navigation is the process of getting something from one location to another, then tracking is the process of monitoring it as it moves along.

Commerce relies on fleets of vehicles to deliver goods and services either across a crowded city or through nationwide corridors. So, effective fleet management has direct bottom-line implications, such as telling a customer when a package will arrive, spacing buses for the best scheduled service, directing the nearest ambulance to an accident, or helping tankers avoid hazards.

GPS used in conjunction with communication links and computers can provide the backbone for systems tailored to applications in agriculture, mass transit, urban delivery, public safety, and vessel and vehicle tracking. So it's no surprise that police, ambulance, and fire departments are adopting systems like Trimble's GPS-based AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) Manager to pinpoint both the location of the emergency and the location of the nearest response vehicle on a computer map. With this kind of clear visual picture of the situation, dispatchers can react immediately and confidently.

Chicago developed a GPS tracking system to monitor emergency vehicles through their streets, saving precious time responding to 911 calls. And on the commercial front, two taxi companies in Australia track their cabs for better profit and improved safety.

Chicago 911

The goal of public safety agencies is to make every emergency response time as fast as possible. When an emergency erupts, an extra second or two can mean the difference between a life saved and a life lost. Vital decisions must be made by a dispatcher in even the best circumstances. Imagine how complex the task becomes in a metropolis like Chicago, with a tangled web of streets and fifteen million emergency calls each year. To help make a difference, Chicago has developed an emergency response system built on Trimble Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) hardware and software.

Under the old system, Chicago's dispatchers had to make decisions based on data typed on 3x5 cards. Under the new system they have all the vital information displayed on the digital maps right in front of them. Dispatchers see the entire city on a digital map allowing 911 calls to be pinpointed instantly. Emergency response vehicles are displayed as icons so the most available unit can be determined. Dispatchers can even zoom in to see building footprints, addresses, even building height, type, and access. This new GPS-based dispatch system displays a wealth of other information, including location of fire hydrants, street directions, and street width.

By taking advantage of GPS and by having the tools to immediately identify the best unit to respond, dispatchers will be able to trim seconds-if not minutes-off of response times. A year from now there will be Chicago citizens alive who simply would not be alive without this new system.

Taxis Down Under

Keeping track of vehicles is a widely used application of GPS. In three of Australia's major cities, keeping track of 3500 taxis used to be a real chore, until Trimble GPS receivers were installed in the cabs.

A major taxi communication systems supplier has been installing Trimble's SVeeSix-CM3 receivers in cabs in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide. Two companies, Yellow Top Cabs and Silver Top, adopted the new tracking technology for efficiency of service and productivity. The drivers, however, were sold on the safety angle. When a recently stolen taxi was tracked by dispatchers and recovered by police, the drivers were convinced.

Even more, they can now get jobs more appropriate to their location, arrive more quickly, and serve happier customers (who give better tips). And this adds up to better service and more passenger miles for lower overall cost.