Philadelphia Housing Authority Police have become the first and only police force in the city with Global Positioning Systems in all of their marked vehicles. The system is designed to increase the department's efficiency and provide cost savings to PHA.

The GPS system from networkcar tracks the movement and location of all police vehicles at all times. The system allows police to efficiently manage calls for service based on the location of the police cars to produce a timely response.

The system pinpoints a vehicle's location within several feet and can also track a vehicle's speed and stop and start patterns. With GPS, the PHA Police Department now has a new tool for combating crime and managing calls for service.

"It's a good way to protect our officers," says PHA Police Chief Rich Zappile. "It's also a good way to keep track of fleet costs. GPS allows police to direct resources in a manner that is both flexible and responsive to the dynamic and changing nature of public safety operations."

In addition to tracking a vehicle's location, GPS technology improves efficiency. The system monitors an engine's performance measurements such as idle time and gasoline usage. It alerts the fleet manager, via e-mail, of engine malfunctions in real time.

"PHA uses advanced technology in every operating department within the agency. That's part of the reason we have been able to reduce our workforce by more than 50 percent since 2000. The GPS system will allow us to use our police as efficiently as possible, and we intend to examine other areas for using GSP as well," said PHA Executive Director Carl Greene.

Some of the other benefits of the system being deployed by PHA include:

  • GPS Tracking History - allowing a review of up to 90 days of vehicle location history online (where the vehicle has been and for how long; miles per gallon; vehicle speed, etc.)
  • Geofencing - allowing supervisors to monitor vehicle movement into and out of restricted areas and create geographical boundaries to monitor fleet whereabouts.
  • Detecting Problems at an Earlier, Less Expensive Stage - Problem Alerts are e-mailed to managers when a performance problem is reported by the vehicle's computerized diagnostic trouble code. This will reduce excessive or unnecessary billings by repair vendors.
  • Accident Reduction, Lower Insurance Claims, and Improved Driver Safety - A vehicle's speed is directly monitored from the engines of fleet vehicles. This will enhance the safety and performance of the fleet. The installed hardware also provides fuel consumption for each vehicle, as well as notifying the manager of scheduled maintenance and miles per gallon used by every vehicle.

The challenge for PHA will be to harness the power of GPS for other PHA vehicles to improve service to residents and further lower agency costs.

The system PHA is using was purchased from Networkcar, the leading provider of around-the-clock services for remotely monitoring the performance, location and security of fleet vehicles.

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