Satellite tech keeps tabs on Cornwall's rubbish

Virtual Earth tracks binmen

Virtual Earth tracks binmen

Local authorities in south-west England are using satellite technology to keep track of their rubbish collection fleets.

Caradon and North Cornwall District Councils have been using Masternaut Three X to monitor their fleet online since June this year.

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The tech not only tracks the vehicles – which include rubbish collection lorries, street sweepers and housing maintenance vehicles - but also helps to schedule collections and work out the most efficient routes.

Each vehicle is fitted with a telematics unit which uses a GPS satellite receiver and GPRS capability to communicate back to the council team.

The location and movements of the vehicles are then displayed using Microsoft's Virtual Earth.

Vehicles also have sensors that generate data related to their particular task: for example, a road sweeper will send information about whether they are currently sweeping or moving to a new location.

The system records arrival and departure times as well as speed and mileage and can also alert council managers if drivers break speed limits.

This data can then be used to show how the council is performing and where it could improve.

In addition, each vehicle depot has a large screen showing the information meaning controllers and drivers can keep track of the day-to-day movements of the fleet.

Operations manager at Caradon District Council, Richard Isbell, said the technology has been easy to implement and use, and other council departments are now looking to use it.

Isbell told "It's just generally to make us more efficient. It's also very useful when it comes to lone working."

The system lets managers know where lone workers are when they're on duty, meaning their safety is greatly improved and they can be deployed in the most efficient way.

Isbell added the council is looking to extend the system to work on mobile devices as well adding the Greenerfleet application which provides information on the carbon footprint of vehicle fleets.