Why public safety fleets need telematics

Published on March 20, 2024

Whenever disaster strikes, public safety fleets are first to the scene. There’s an expectation for police, fire, and ambulance personnel to act quickly and safely. They often need to speed and drive aggressively when in pursuit of fleeing vehicles or responding to an emergency. Their fleets need to be in tip top shape and serviced regularly to ensure they’re ready to go in a moment’s notice. But public safety vehicles come with a heavy price tag and cities often have tight budgets. If there was a tool to consistently measure the health of your vehicles, while keeping personnel safe on the road, wouldn’t you want to implement it? Telematics can do this and much more – which is an increasing number of emergency service departments are turning to technology to enhance the performance of their fleets.

Geotab’s data security

Dealing with sensitive and private information is something public safety agencies handle daily. They require highly secure information management systems to store and process data. With Geotab, government agencies can rest assured their data is in good hands. They were the first telematics company to receive a FIPS 140-2 validated encryption library – passing the strict requirements imposed by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. Geotab is committed to data security and protection. Learn more about Geotab’s compliance certifications and authorizations in their Security Centre.

Introducing telematics – change management

Technology can be a scary word for a lot of people. And telematics can be downright foreign. When it comes to introducing telematics into your public safety fleet, Northern BI can do the heavy lifting. Every one of our clients is assigned a dedicated Customer Success Manager to manage the implementation. This is a service not all Geotab partners do – or do very well at that. At Northern BI, you’re receiving the best Geotab support in the industry with real people guiding you from start to finish. And if you need extra assistance, or want to integrate another software solution, all you have to do is ask! We have lots of experience tailoring Geotab’s solution to meet our clients’ unique needs.

Officer safety

Fleets of all varieties use Geotab’s mapping features to keep track of their vehicles while they’re travelling. If a public safety vehicle stops moving unexpectedly for a long time, it could mean trouble. With Geotab’s Active Tracking, first responder fleet administrators can keep near-real time tabs on the location of their vehicles – including how fast the vehicle is traveling and whether the driver is wearing their seatbelt. If a collision is detected, database administrators will be the first to know. Custom rules and reports can be created inside Geotab to alert and monitor the status of every vehicle.

Monitor fuel costs and unnecessary idling

It’s no secret first responder vehicles are constantly on the move. Whether they’re patrolling routes or sitting idle while monitoring a situation. If your public safety fleet needs to save money, using telematics to monitor fuel consumption and maintenance is an easy win. Police, fire, and ambulance vehicles can sit idling for hours on end putting a significant dent into a department’s fuel budget. With telematics, you can measure how long vehicles are idling, how much it costs and set up rules to alert drivers when they’ve been idling for a given amount of time. Governments are trying to decrease their carbon footprint and be more responsible about CO2 emissions. Measure idling is a simple way to make an impact on your sustainability goals.

Increase vehicle lifecycle with preventative maintenance

Emergency vehicles put on a lot of miles every year. This can contribute to needing more frequent maintenance, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and brake repairs to name a few. By using Geotab’s built-in maintenance reports and reminders, public safety fleets can easily keep track of which vehicles are due for work. Reminders can be set so there’s less guesswork or worrying about forgetting things. Using Geotab can also notify fleet managers if there’s a potential engine issue in a vehicle. And if your fleet requires a more comprehensive maintenance tool to track total vehicle spend, service work orders…etc., Fleetio is a perfect tool to integrate with your Geotab solution. There are so many things Geotab can do to keep your fleet’s health up to date!

Routing and dispatching

Using telematics helps fleet managers determine which vehicle to dispatch based on their proximity to a reported incident. Dispatchers can have a complete view of their fleet and use Geotab’s “dispatch vehicle” to a particular zone. Geotab’s zoning feature gives fleet managers the power to create custom zones within a map much like setting up geofences. This can be particularly useful if a vehicle has left or entered a zone unexpectedly.

Routing is also especially important when it comes to patrolling. Fleet managers can pinpoint the most efficient routes for officers to patrol and determine how many vehicles are required in each area. If an officer is ever questioned about being at a specific location at a specific time, fleet administrators can use the “Area Activity” feature to verify if in fact a vehicle was present, within a 72-hour timeframe.

In-car sensor integration

First responder vehicles are normally outfitted with a lot of extra bells and whistles. Lights, sirens, and gun racks are often engaged when responding to an incident. But did you know, Geotab’s IOX solution can also detect the activation of a gun rack in a police vehicle? This feature alone can be extremely valuable when dissecting what happened during a post-incident investigation. Moreover, public safety fleets can connect their lights and sirens to Geotab’s IOX expansion giving supervisors even more visibility into emergency response activities.

And we can’t forget about our K9 friends! With Geotab IOX, administrators can ensure in-vehicle temperature is safe for K9s on the job.

Collision reconstruction and alerts

Police vehicles have approximately double the number of crashes as the public. With Geotab telematics, collisions can be accurately detected from speed and g-force data. The collision reconstruction report is a valuable tool for police fleets in particular. Using this report can help understand the events that happened before, during and after a collision. Geotab’s Collision Reconstruction is a free add-in from the Geotab Marketplace (depending on your rate plan).

In a high-speed pursuit, the Regina Police Service authorized one of its officers to crash into a vehicle they were pursuing. By using the collision reconstruction tool, they were able to accurately detect the crash at the exact moment it happened and use the data in a post-incident review. “The collision alert in Geotab was 100% correct. It identified the collision the moment it happened. I was able to run a collision reconstruction report which helped the review team reconstruct what happened from start to finish.”

Dash cameras help with road safety

Take your fleet safety to the next level by implementing dash cameras into your first responder vehicles. Dash cameras can provide valuable information in the event of an accident or near-miss – not to mention when submitting insurance claims. Dash camera technology has come a long way. The ROSCO DV6 dash camera has AI technology to detect distractions including drowsiness, cell phone usage, and when the driver’s eyes drift from the road ahead. Side and rear cameras can also be connected so supervisors can have a full 360-degree view of their vehicles.

Assess if it’s time to make the switch to EVs

Fleets across multiple industries are feeling the pressure to transition to electric vehicles in the coming years, and police services are no exception. Geotab’s Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) can help fleets determine which vehicles are suitable candidates for an EV replacement. By using your existing Geotab data, the EVSA can recommend a comparable EV based on your current vehicle model and usage. Despite costing more upfront than a gas car, EVs will save first responder fleets in the long run.

EVSA Recommendation

Geotab’s EVSA can recommend suitable EVs. (Photo from geotab.com)

If your public safety fleet isn’t using telematics, what are you using?

Think about how your public safety fleet is operating today. Are circle checks being reported on paper? How much did idling cost your department last quarter or if a vehicle has just been involved in a collision? Telematics can help with safety, productivity, and compliance by using data to generate areas of opportunity. Without using telematics to oversee both vehicles and personnel, valuable information is slipping through the cracks.

If you’re interested in learning how Geotab telematics can optimize your public safety fleet, contact Northern BI today. We can set you up with a demo and/or trial so you can experience the benefits of Geotab’s leading telematics solution first-hand!

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Torrie Rogers

Marketing Coordinator


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