Driving along city streets, commercial vehicles often have a bumper sticker on their rear that reads: “How’s my driving?” followed by a phone number. These days, state and local officials are taking a more technological approach to the traditional “How’s my driving” sticker on agency vehicles. They’re using “telematics.”

Telematics is a technology that gathers all kinds of data in real-time. It combines telecommunications and information processing to send, receive and store information related to remote objects, such a vehicle.

Using Telematics to Crackdown on Government Fleet Vehicle Misuse

Michigan may start to use telematics in a pilot program for a fleet of 120 vehicles, which includes global positioning system (GPS) technology. The initiative could help the state save money on fuel and crack down on employees who misuse government vehicles.

For instance, a state elevator inspector was suspended in January 2015 for alleged use of his state-owned vehicle for personal use. While telematics can catch wrongdoers, they can also verify the actions of government employees doing their duties. State officials get calls from citizens who see state-licensed vehicles at strip clubs. Telematics can determine whether the visit was an abuse or for work. In a news report from April 17, 2015, Michigan State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker said, “Often times it’s a liquor control officer but... To have that validation and accountability would be huge.”

Who’s Issuing Telematics Solicitations?

In 2014, most state and local solicitations came from New Jersey and the Boston area. In the first quarter of 2015, the solicitations have moved south to Virginia, including Fairfax County and the City of Chesapeake and west to California including San Diego County and the City of Fresno.

Onvia’s Project Center reveals that in the first quarter of 2015, state and local governments issued 28 telematics-related bids and requests for proposals (RFPs) – 25% were issued by cities and towns and 42% by state agencies. As you'll see in the charts below, 2015 is on pace to see continued growth in this market.  Looking back, for all of 2014, state and local agencies issued 116 bids and RFPs – 41% issued by cities and towns. In 2013, there were 78 solicitations – 44% issued by cities and towns. Vendors should look at city and town agencies for opportunities but should not forget about state agenices.

Also important to note is that while most telematics-related opportunities are technology-related, firms in other industries such as construction and building supplies should be aware that agencies often seek built-in or added-on tracking capability for heavy equipment and other high value equipment.

2013 - Q1 2015 state and local government telematics-related bids and rfps

Examples of Telematics-Related Bids & RFPs

Issued an RFP in January 2015 for equipment, real-time data collection, data analysis and reporting. The agency is considering a telematics system for a fleet of 1,000 heavy-duty trucks primarily used in winter with the intention of improving operational efficiency and reducing fleet costs.
Awarded a three-year contract in late 2014 to Iler Group. Inc. for automatic vehicle location (AVL) telematics management services. The purpose of the contract is to provide the state agency with comprehensive vehicle reporting services, such as location detection, vehicle and driver safety information, improved work productivity and improved vehicle operation efficiencies.
Released an RFP in 2014, last updated in March 2015 for a three-year contract to provide an AVL systems service (with support) that can interface with the existing Webtech/InterFleet hardware currently installed on County vehicles. Along with gaining efficiencies, the purpose of tracking is to improve the dispatching of resources and increase the safety of its operators.
Issued a bid in October 2014 to purchase 14 four-wheel-drive backhoes, complete with telematics. Boston city officials want capabilities that include remote monitoring of machines location, diagnostics and performance.

Key Takeaways

Cost savings, which is always a concern with agency budgets, and accountability fuel the need for telematics. "At all levels of government, taxpayers deserve honesty and accountability from those who work on their behalf," said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in the report on vehicle misuse. "Scam artists who aim to take advantage of state resources will face justice."

Vendors will find that a large portion of the available bids & RFPs are available to companies in the software & services industry. To learn more about how innovative technologies are changing the ways governments do business, download our Smart Cities: How Cities are Investing to Enhance Livability whitepaper for free.