County hears options on how to better manage trucks, people health rating

HARTINGTON — Cedar County vehicles may be getting an add-on in the near future.
County Commissioners met with a Verizon NetworkFleet representative Tuesday to discuss possibly implementing devices into county work vehicles and machinery.
Among many features, the devices would allow location tracking, vehicle diagnostics, and much more.
The cost would be $100 per unit, and each unit comes with a $18.95 monthly fee for the services, but there is no contract that would need to be signed. That would mean that Cedar County could slowly roll out the devices in vehicles and then expand based on necessity and if it seems to have a positive impact.
All devices have a lifetime warranty, and there are also devices that can be attached to trailers, plow trucks and heavier machinery. Those devices would cost $80 dollars each with a lower monthly cost of $17 per unit.
Verizon started this company about five years ago, when Verizon decided to implement these devices in its own vehicles and didn’t like the results it was seeing. Diagnostics has become a large business over the past decade, with insurance companies, auto companies and third parties now all offering these services.
The devices send out a ping every 60 seconds that feeds through the cell towers and can be followed live online. This ping takes a low amount of cellular service, only needing 1X of service.
This has been around for almost 20 years, now, and is why sometimes a text message can send in an area where a call cannot be made. Since it takes such little service, the pings rarely can’t be sent due to lack of service, but if there is no service, the device can store 30 days worth of data from a no-service area. As soon as the vehicle gets to a spot that has service, the ping will be sent out and the data will be updated online.
Verizon boasted that the return on investment is pretty significant.
Counties that have implemented these services have saved between 20 and 25 percent on fuel, have seen a 15-20 percent increase in fleet utilization, and a 10-15 percent increase in work productivity.
There are 24 customizable reports that can be set up to automatically send to an email or phone, and that helps to stay on top of issues before they grow into larger problems.
Some areas in Nebraska already using Verizon NetworkFleet are Cass County and the city of Omaha.
Cass County has partnered with Verizon for over three years now and the Verizon representative said there is rarely an issue the county needs help with. Omaha more recently rolled out the devices in one department and now has them in almost every government car in the city.
For cars and trucks, the device will send location data for any make or model in use, and diagnostics can be utilized from any make or model that is 1996 or newer.
The county commissioners posed some questions and seemed intrigued by the idea, but did not make a decision at the meeting. Commissioners asked for some counties in Nebraska that they could talk to and get some first hand reviews.
There are many features that can be utilized, or they can be tucked away and not be monitored. There is an option that allows the public to have a login to see locations of trucks. This would be helpful during the winter to find out how recently area roads had been plowed.
Another feature that would come with the package is roadside assistant through AllState. If a county government vehicle breaks down and needs to be towed, AllState would provide up to four free tows per year, potentially saving the county money in that situation.
The Verizon representatives noted the location services are a valuable tool, but that is not what helps the county save money. The vehicle diagnostics are bigger for return on investment because it helps be preventative with routine maintenance.
The Commissioners ended the meeting by saying they will look into it more but no decision has been made at this time.