Council puts satellite trackers on ride-on mowers
SATELLITE tracking devices could be fitted to lawnmowers used by North Somerset Council staff.
The technology could also be fitted to road sweepers and trucks in the county.
North Somerset Council is asking businesses tendering for its £2 million contract to keep parks tidy and streets swept to fit the specialist global positioning systems to all its vehicles and machinery.
The devices will be able to map exactly where contractors are working and information collected by the satellites on the locations of staff will be transmitted through the internet where contractors and the council can view it.
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The contract for caring for North Somerset's 900 hectares of open spaces and sweeping 1100 kilometres of the road network comes up for renewal in April 2013.
The authority is hoping the devices will make the service more efficient as the budget for the contract has been reduced next financial year by £750,000.
The authority – tasked with saving £47 million over four years – has already installed GPS devices on its pool cars to track locations of staff and details of mileage.
Its waste contractors, May Gurney, also has the technology fitted to its refuse and recycling vehicles, allowing the company and the council to ensure collection routes are being covered properly.
The devices – which can be bought as cheaply as £100 each – are also useful in tracing equipment or vehicles if they are stolen and as a result reduce insurance costs.
North Somerset Council community and environmental services manager John Flannigan said: "This is not Big Brother – it is purely another business tool. It allows us to get real time feedback about where our contractors and kit are.
"It will also let us map our contractors to check for efficiency and if they are at the requested locations.
"Like any system it has benefits and limitations.
"It will tell us where are contractors are located, but not necessarily whether they have carried out the work required.
"Other companies are already using this technologies and it makes good business sense.
"We are asking the contractors bidding for the contract to fit these devices and there will be no cost to the council.
"We are requesting that they are fitted to any vehicle which is used within the contract.
"Keeping our open spaces cared for and cleaning the streets is a big task and this means we can manage it more effectively and it will be more cost effective."
North Somerset Council spokesman Becky Slade said: "This is a small part of a larger contract and is becoming standard business practice.
" Contractors want to track their vehicles for insurance and security purposes, and we also want to track where they are when working for us."