Government Technology

GPS System Polarizes Workers in Baltimore County, Md.

December 5, 2012 By

More than 900 vehicles in Baltimore County, Md., now have GPS units installed, the Baltimore Sun reported. County officials believe the devices save about $100,000 annually on fuel costs by optimizing routes, but others question that figure.

"For a lot of the types of vehicles in a typical city or county fleet, GPS solutions have not been that cost-effective so far," Paul Lauria, president of fleet management consulting company Mercury Associates, told the Sun.

The county purchased their GPS system though NexTraq, paying $100,000 in startup costs and $288,000 in yearly fees. Advocates of in-vehicle GPS technology cite several other benefits that help offset system costs, including increased productivity and reduced vehicle wear and tear.

But some employee groups view the GPS devices as Big-Brother-style supervision, cautioning against using any information gathered by the system in employee disciplinary actions. Managers receive alerts if an employee drives faster than 12 miles per hour above the speed limit, if a vehicle idles excessively or crosses county lines.

The speed-tracking feature in particular has drawn many complaints from workers. "Most people won't admit it, but if you go 55 [mph] on the Beltway, you'll get run over, " said Norman Anderson, president of AFSCME Local 921, an organization that represents truck drivers and heavy-equipment operators.

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Michael Withrow    |    Commented December 6, 2012

My Agency attempted to implement a GPS solution to assist the field staff in keeping track of their mileage and Travel. there was a HUGE pushback by approx 30% of the employee's who feared big brother, another 30 were ambivolent, and 40 % said it was Great. For me, the only reason to fear GPS, is if your doing something you shouldn't be. Field staff on still on the clock, so it's the Employers right to know where you are.

Doesn't Add Up    |    Commented December 6, 2012

For the sake of argument, even assuming the $100,000 a year savings is an accurate figure, the math doesn't make sense. In the first year the savings will just pay for the hardware, leaving a $288,000 deficit. Every year after that, the county will be losing $188,000 per year! Not cost effective. Out of curiosity, what is the $288,000 annual fee for? It doesn't cost me anything to use my personal GPS, unless every other year or so I decide to update the maps.

G0tN0Clu3    |    Commented December 6, 2012

All of our state vehicles have GPS and the "GPS Equipt Vehicle" sticked on the dash is a constant reminder to our employees to be where they are supposed to be. The GPS helps us find disabled and stolen vehicles within minutes.

Dave in NC    |    Commented December 18, 2012

OK, so it's a government vehicle, and you're on government time. So what was the issue?

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