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Virginia DOT Looks to Tracking Tech for Fleet Efficiencies

Nearly 12,000 snowplows in the state will be outfitted with new software and equipment to more efficiently manage winter weather operations. The changes will mean better monitoring of routes, and vehicle maintenance.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will outfit some 11,700 snowplows with new technology to provide officials with real-time operational data via a “snowplow tracker” mounted on each device.

“The snowplow tracker shares snowplow locations and clearing efforts with the public during winter weather events, and the improved system will provide more timely and accurate data to this service,” said Branco Vlacich, maintenance division administrator at VDOT.

The technology will be provided by CalAmp, which produces connected vehicle equipment and software. The Virginia Department of Transportation signed a 10-year deal to use CalAmp’s iOn fleet software-as-a-service technology to manage its own snow removal equipment, as well as contract equipment.

Some of the data collected by the iOn system includes the location of individual vehicles, their speed, idling data, mileage, engine diagnostics, driver behavior and more, said Brett Lim, director of global sales at CalAmp.

Like many connected vehicle technologies attached to fleets, the iOn system is designed to significantly aid in the overall management of the fleet. The technology offers “better visibility into mechanical health of vehicles for preventative maintenance,” said Lim.

Virginia is hardly alone when it comes to connecting its snowplows with tech. Transportation departments in Alaska, New Jersey, Utah and other locations have also explored connected fleet vehicle technologies.

Sensors and cameras will inform transportation officials with detailed information about the condition of roadways.

The ability to track when plow blades are in “plowing mode” would provide crucial information related to scheduling and operations, which would improve quality assurance of snow clearing schedules and operations, Vlacich explained. The state is also exploring the possibility of receiving real-time road conditions via video feeds.

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 Sacramento.

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