Scranton, Pa., Weighs Options for Fleet Tracking System

The city has about 140 vehicles in its fleet, and officials are determining how many should be outfitted with the new technology. Officials are checking if they must solicit bids or proposals for the technology.

by Jeff Horvath, The Times-Tribune / September 30, 2019
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(TNS) — Scranton soon may implement a GPS vehicle tracking system to monitor and collect key data on the city’s vehicle fleet.

City officials met recently with representatives of Verizon’s government account division to discuss Networkfleet, a GPS platform that tracks vehicle travel and provides fleet performance information and vehicle diagnostics. Verizon contacted the city, and while still in the early stages, Mayor Wayne Evans said he’s interested in implementing the system or similar technology if the price is right.

The discussions come as Scranton prepares to issue a request for proposals seeking an accountant or firm to audit city gas card use over the past three years. City council originally requested the Scranton controller’s office conduct the audit of the 80 cards, but Controller Roseann Novembrino told city council Wednesday that her office is not staffed to conduct such an audit.

Council’s audit request came after Fire Chief Patrick DeSarno was involved in a minor crash in a city-owned 2018 Ford Escape while on vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey, on July 18. The Times-Tribune reported last week that DeSarno used his taxpayer-funded gas card to fuel up at a turnpike station near Allentown the same day he got into the fender bender while vacationing.

Evans decided Friday to have DeSarno audit his own gas card records, identify any inappropriate expenditures and reimburse the city.

Last month, Evans implemented a written policy restricting the use of city-assigned vehicles in the wake of DeSarno’s accident. Among other restrictions, the policy bars any employee from using a city-owned vehicle for personal reasons.

During city council’s meeting this past Monday, several members were interested in the GPS tracking system. Council President Pat Rogan said having some sort of control and oversight over the vehicle fleet is a “no-brainer.”

Councilman Bill Gaughan noted the Networkfleet platform allows for parameters to be set for each vehicle. That feature, known as geofencing, alerts officials when a vehicle travels outside of a designated area — Scranton city limits, for example.

Gaughan, Evans and others said they believe certain tools the system offers, such as the ability to monitor vehicle speed, idle time and driver behavior, could also result in greater fuel and other efficiency.

“All and all, I think we should be looking to be more efficient in each department,” Gaughan said. “I think this provides a level of efficiency that I don’t think we’ve ever seen here in the city as it relates to our vehicle fleet, and also a level of transparency that I don’t think we’ve seen so far in our city’s history.”

The cost of the GPS system is not yet known. Scranton has about 140 vehicles in its fleet, and Evans said officials are determining how many should be outfitted with the new technology. Once officials provide Verizon with a vehicle count, the company will provide pricing, Evans said.

City officials are checking if they must solicit bids or proposals for the technology. Evans said he’s not averse to doing so if required.

“I think most employees will welcome this technology because it will help us do our jobs better,” Evans said. “We want to be as open and transparent as we can be, and this is part of the process.”

©2019 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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