The Global Positioning System (GPS) is made up of 24 satellites orbiting the earth at speeds around 7,000 mph. At this speed, you could travel across the entire United States in about 30 minutes. Did you know that GPS is used on golf courses to measure the distance between golfers and the pin? Farmers also rely on GPS systems to program tractors to automatically plow, fertilize, and harvest their fields.

Here are five ways GPS technology can help you cut costs within your government agency and provide better public service.

1.       Reduce downtime

With GPS, you can automatically collect location data and transmit the information to any computer or device with a browser. Managers can see where field employees are and produce reports showing where a worker has stopped, for how long, at what time, and on which date. Reducing idle time equates to improved efficiency and often less overtime – a cost savings no agency can ignore.

2.       Integrate and dispatch jobs to the field

Customer service representatives handle thousands of non-emergency 311 calls related to city streets; sidewalk curbs; signs and pavement markings; bicycle and pedestrian programs; and more. Being able to generate jobs information from the field allows for faster response to 311 requests. A prompt reply may even reduce the number of repeat calls – a win-win for everyone.

3.       Send help where it's needed – quickly

When storms or disasters hit, using mobile forms means departments can note what types of crews and equipment are needed and where, depending on the nature and location of the disaster area. This data can be transmitted back to headquarters where a detailed analysis can be done to set tasks for the next shift and adequately schedule work crews. In the event of a disaster, a prompt reply is expected of any city or state government. GPS and forms can ease the stress of an emergency by helping place the required help in the hardest hit areas.

4.       Automate timekeeping and payroll processing

Many city workers and contractors have to clock in and clock out for work. This often requires extra time to simply submit essential paperwork. GPS technology can automate timesheets and payroll processing, shaving minutes from hundreds of workers. The best part is that the timesheets can sync with your accounting program to make this truly a seamless process for both workers and administration.

5.       Use geofencing to ensure safety of employees and reduce fuel costs

A geofence is a virtual barrier for a specified geographic area. Programs that use geofencing allow managers to set up triggers when a vehicle enters or exits the defined boundaries. There are two common uses of this technology.

a.       Employee safety: Managers are alerted if an employee enters or leaves a specified area. With many city workers working in the field, it is critical to ensure their safety, but not knowing where everyone is located makes this nearly impossible. GPS technology can alert dispatchers if a code enforcer has not made contact and send backup if necessary.

b.      Reducing fuel costs: Studies have found that with GPS tracking installed on fleets, employees are less likely to make personal stops, therefore reducing fuel costs.

Anne Bonaparte, president and CEO of Xora

Anne Bonaparte is president and CEO of mobile workforce management company Xora.