Where's my trash now?

San Diego's Environmental Services Department can monitor garbage trucks in the field through GPS software called V-TRAC.

And you thought the hydraulic arms that picked up the trash cans were high-tech. Garbage collection in San Diego's Environmental Services Department (ESD) can now track trucks and manage the fleet using a GPS technology called V-TRAC, reports Government Technology.

Along with GPS technology, V-TRAC has server-side vehicle management/fleet tracking software, database management, and Automated Refuse Tonnage System (ARTS), designed in-house and used daily by supervisors to assign drivers to routes. By employing V-TRAC  the city saves an estimated $1 million per year.

"We looked at ways to establish greater collection efficiency and reduce costs associated with labor, mileage and gasoline," said Deena Jamieson, GPS coordinator of the ESD. With 200 collection vehicles in the department's fleet and 320,000 residential customers, this is no easy task.

Jamieson said maximizing the amount of trash each driver collects means fewer collection vehicles on the street, ultimately saving the department a lot of money -- refuse collection vehicles cost between $100,000 and $150,000 each and are expensive to operate, she explained.
The city's water department also has been installing GPS V-TRAC on their fleet. 

"One of our goals is to be more efficient and to provide better service to our customers," said Theresa Spencer, an Information Systems analyst of the San Diego Water Department. "One way of doing that is to respond to problem calls as quickly as we can." 

Spencer expects to outfit 1,000 vehicles with the GPS/AVL system, and Spencer said the Water Department expects to install GPS on its entire fleet by that time as well.

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