Ann Arbor, Mich., Uses Tech Tool to Manage its Solid Waste Fleet

Government agencies look for ways to expedite work order processing, facilitate the flow of communication between fleet employees and dispatchers.

Megan Greenwalt, Freelance writer

January 11, 2017

4 Min Read
Ann Arbor, Mich., Uses Tech Tool to Manage its Solid Waste Fleet

When it comes to solid waste management, government agencies look for ways to expedite work order processing, facilitate the flow of communication between fleet employees and dispatchers, increase driver safety and improve overall service delivery to their customers.

To accomplish this, some municipal solid waste departments are turning to technology, specifically web-based solutions, to help them track city vehicles, facilitate reliable communications, monitor driver behavior and manage vehicle maintenance in order to cut costs and improve overall efficiency.

Through Cityworks, the City of Ann Arbor, Mich., recently signed an agreement with CalAmp, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of wireless products, services and solutions, to integrate Cityworks’ GIS-centric asset management solution with CalAmp’s GovOutlook Esri GIS-based Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system to streamline its waste operations, in addition to other public works services. It's one of a host of similar services on the market. 

“The city has a solid relationship with CalAmp and felt the GovOutlook application was a beneficial addition to the AVL that could best provide the integration Ann Arbor is hoping to achieve,” says Molly Maciejewski, public works manager for the City of Ann Arbor.

In 2010, Ann Arbor selected CalAmp to provide AVL services because of its GPS location, tracking and monitoring services as well as its ability to connect with snow plow and solid waste equipment. CalAmp provided web-based internal solution for managing trucks, as well as a web-based solution for a customer facing plow location and status map.

Ann Arbor needed a system to collect data that enables it to be more efficient in documenting problems and more proactive in service delivery.

“For example, a solid waste driver who encounters a pothole will use the technology to report the pothole and its exact location, all with the push of a few buttons. The data is fed to Cityworks, which will create a service request and notify the street maintenance department of the problem,” says Maciejewski. “The integration will result in more accurate data and timely reporting, as well as decreased response times.”

Additionally, solid waste drivers also will have the ability to report reasons trash could not be collected, such as blocked solid waste bins or bins containing prohibited materials. This data will be transmitted immediately and available to staff who respond to citizen calls.

“The data captured through GovOutlook will not only improve communication both internally and externally, but will be used to guide decisions on public education and operational changes,” says Maciejewski.

GovOutlook will integrate with the Cityworks asset management data to streamline the creation and execution of service requests and work orders. A CalAmp in-vehicle navigation display installed in City of Ann Arbor vehicles allows service fleet employees to use preconfigured messages to establish a service request such as waste pick-up. The request is sent through GovOutlook into the Cityworks system to generate a work order.

“By integrating with third party applications and databases like Cityworks, GovOutlook exchanges data related to fleet management, work orders, dispatch, GIS, and routing systems,” says Paul Washicko, general manager of SaaS for CalAmp. “Breadcrumb trail information illustrates the path taken by a vehicle and allows users to play, pause, rewind, and fast forward to review a vehicle’s movement. Additionally, users can view a historical ‘replay’ of a vehicle trip and its activity history at various speeds to better manage driver behavior.”

Unlike other fleet management applications, GovOutlook is fully integrated with Esri GIS data mapping providing detailed information such as infrastructure, assets, routes, and facilities to allow fleet managers to more easily track vehicle location in their municipality. A CalAmp designed administrative portal allows users to perform a wide range of functions on their own, including set-up and ongoing administration of the in-vehicle devices.

“The portal empowers fleet managers to adjust vehicles, devices, alerts and landmarks from a single integrated interface,” says Washicko. “Real-time alerts related to geo‐borders, speeding, hours of operation and idle time can be custom configured to notify selected users when specific events occur with any vehicle.”

Waste management agencies utilize GovOutlook to track waste trucks and monitor the status of the vehicle in relation to work orders, routes, zones and infrastructure, according to Washicko. By installing a telematics device in the waste truck and sensors on the truck arms, fleet managers can track the vehicle in relation to solid waste routes, street addresses, and parcels numbers, allowing waste agencies to determine the status of a waste pick-up and respond to service inquiries quickly.

“With access to better communication, vehicle location and actionable information, fleet managers can process work orders more efficiently, manage vehicle idle time to reduce fuel costs, streamline vehicle maintenance and monitor driver behavior to increase driver safety,” he says. “Quicker in-field response times lead to improved customer service.”

About the Author(s)

Megan Greenwalt

Freelance writer, Waste360

Megan Greenwalt is a freelance writer based in Youngstown, Ohio, covering collection & transfer and technology for Waste360. She also is the marketing and communications advisor for a property preservation company in Valley View, Ohio, and a member of the Public Relations Society of America. Prior to her current roles, Greenwalt served as the associate editor of Waste & Recycling News for three years and as features editor for a local newspaper in Warren, Ohio, for more than five years. Greenwalt is a 2002 graduate of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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