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Driver's Ed: Wireless fleet technology targets emissions reductions, fuel savings

Can an investment in wireless fleet management or emissions technology help your company achieve some of its green IT goals?That's the bet that the City of Napa, California, is making with an installation of products from Networkfleet, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of automotic services company Hughes Telematics.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Can an investment in wireless fleet management or emissions technology help your company achieve some of its green IT goals?

That's the bet that the City of Napa, California, is making with an installation of products from Networkfleet, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of automotic services company Hughes Telematics.

The municipality snagged a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in order to help fund the technology, which will be used on its light-duty city vehicles (which include police, fire, water, street and community resource departments. The Networkfleet technology works by running an EPA-mandated emissions control system check when a vehicle completes four hours of run time. That information is sent wirelessly to a management console. In addition, the application can be used to keep tabs on how vehicles are used and identify "poor driving habits," such as excess idling.

The wireless technology also helps address efficiency issues, enabling dispatches to send the closest most appropriate vehicle to the scene of a problem.

The Networkfleet deployment in Napa goes to show that this sort of technology isn't the exclusive domain of the big shipping and transportation companies.

Of course, Networkfleet isn't the only game in town, either. I spoke last year with Navman Wireless Holdings of Glenview, Illinois, which sells its GPS-based fleet tracking systems into small and midsize enterprises. When I spoke with Navman Wireless CEO T.J. Chung last year, he said one of the most important benefits of this green technology is that it helps encourage driving habits that save fuel, such as rerouting drivers to a route that might have less traffic or determining which stops to visit first. This sound very Big Brother-esque, doesn't it?

Navman Wireless delivers its application as a service, and when I spoke with Chung last fall he estimated that it can help companies save $80 per vehicle per month in savings (including reduced fuel costs).

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