The U.S. city San Diego is using GPS technology to reroute its trucks, cutting costs and pollution emissions. With the help of a new computerized GPS the San Diego Environmental Services Department has streamlined the city’s trash pickup routes, lowered dangerous gas emissions and saved thousands of dollars a day in diesel fuel. City officials say they have cut $671,000 in costs through the rerouting program started a year ago, and they anticipate the savings will increase to $1 million annually as the overhaul expands.
Using internet-based mapping software, the new technology has aided the city in rerouting more than 180 garbage and recycling trucks by concentrating previously scattered trash pickups into compact geographic areas. Workloads, which varied widely in the past, were redistributed to curb overtime costs and reduce employee rivalries for coveted routes — ones with more overtime. Initially, the new program was used to spot inefficiencies in pickup routes, but it is now used by managers to see where all of the city’s trucks and drivers are at any given time, how fast they are moving and whether they missed a trash bin.
Organized labor was reluctant at first to support the new system because of its potential for use to discipline employees, but it approved of the rerouting effort after the city offered $1,000 merit bonuses to employees. Perhaps unintentionally, the new system also created a potential buffer for the city against costly lawsuits, and has protected employees from false accusations by the public.