IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Fleet Management Tech Tells Boston Exactly Where Each Snowplow Has Been

Fleet management technology from Samsara gives officials in Boston a close look into the operations of hundreds of vehicles crawling across the city.

When a city has hundreds of vehicles ranging from snowplows to garbage trucks roaming the streets, it wants to know everything about them. 
Boston uses fleet management technology by Samsara to monitor, in real-time, vehicles like snow removal plows, garbage collection trucks and even light-duty cars and trucks. 
“By having… real-time visibility into all different types of assets that they have ultimately helps them make sure that they have a sense of where their fleet is, when services need to be provided, that they can actually get some real-time visibility on what’s happening there,” said Rushil Goel, VP and General Manager, Fleet Management at Samsara.
Boston operates about 100 of its own snowplows and contracts out another 700, said Matthew Bradley, Superintendent of Automotive Maintenance in Boston.
All of those plows can be better managed with geofencing technology, drawn around each of the department’s 10 districts to “ensure that plows are servicing in the right location during the time they’re billed for,” said Bradley. “This real-time tracking helps us make sure we’re operating efficiently and spending taxpayer money responsibly.”
The ability to accurately track vehicle movements has been helpful in all forms of accountability, like piecing together incident reports.
“For example, when citizens allege that a snowplow has hit their vehicle, we can quickly check to see if any plows were in the area at that time and exonerate innocent employees or contractors,” said Bradley.
Technology to help public agencies manage their fleets has been a game-changer for improved efficiencies and cost savings, say officials. Particularly as cities branch off into different types of autos like electric vehicles. Boston plans to reach full fleet electrification by 2030.
“So far, we’ve invested in eight fully electric light-duty vehicles and 14 plug-in hybrids to include in our municipal vehicle sharing program,” Bradley explained. “Our code enforcement team also uses these EVs to inspect both snow and trash removal as well as citizens and local businesses’ compliance with city code.”
About four months ago Samsara launched a fleet management platform specifically for EVs, offering deep insights into charging, vehicle range, and how to better manage the cost of charging.
“You want to make sure that the vehicles can actually do their day-to-day job and don’t have any range anxiety,” Goel told Government Technology in an interview last month. “We also help people compare different types of vehicles. So how an electric vehicle compares to an internal combustion vehicle.”
For all of those many internal combustion vehicles cities are still operating, Samsara’s fleet management technology can generally reduce idle time up to 20 percent, “and usually that transmits to about a 5-ish percent… reduction in fuel consumption,” said Goel.
Samsara technology can provide “in-cab coaching” or “in-cab warnings” for drivers if the vehicle is heading into a situation that could cause an accident.
“We provide a one-stop solution for our customers that includes the hardware, the cloud connectivity, the cellular connectivity and the software to actually analyze and report on the data that they are collecting as well,” said Goel. “Fleet officials also have access to a cloud-based dashboard and mobile applications to make it easy to monitor the fleet.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.