Tracking the location and activities of ITD highway maintenance vehicles might get easier thanks to a pilot project featuring a little gold box.
The Preco PreCise System combines global positioning satellite (GPS) technology with Wi-Fi and cellular communication capability in a small gold box that can be mounted in all ITD highway maintenance vehicles, according to Steve Spoor, ITD highway equipment superintendent with the Office of Highway Operations and Safety.
The unit gathers vehicle information ranging from location (via GPS) to equipment accessory activity such as sanding or de-icing application. That data is transferred by cellular or Wi-Fi technologies to a secure Web site where registered users can retrieve the information in the form of easy-to-use reports.
“In any 15-minute time frame we can tell where a specific truck was or has been.” Spoor said. “We can call up hard data or maps.”
ITD, in cooperation with Boise-based Preco, installed the units in four of District 3’s highway maintenance trucks last winter as part of a pilot project planned initially to assess the technology’s value as a tort liability tool.
“We could go back and see precisely where a specific vehicle had been, when, and how much sand or de-icer was put down at a given time,” Spoor said. “After we started looking at the data we could also see the unit’s value with helping manage those materials.”
The department is using the system at no cost, but even carrying an estimated price tag of around $200 per truck, per year, Spoor said he believed the system could pay for itself in two or three years.
“We want to take the time to develop a good business case for using the system statewide,” he said.
He added that adopting the system also might allow ITD to provide a better level of service to the public.
Washington, Arizona and California also are testing the units.