Mobile Applications for Business Case Study
Warren County Highway Department Takes the High Road with Mobility Solution (Cont'd)
Our ability to react to unexpected situations has improved 100 percent.”
- Kathy Poole, Assistant Supervisor, Warren County Highway Department
About Warren County Highway Department
Warren County Highway Department Facts
Make mobile highway workers more productive for quicker responses to citizens in need of help
Cell phones with TeleNav Track from AT&T running on the AT&T wireless network enable the dispatcher to track workers’ locations and assign jobs
Improved ability to respond to unexpected situations and quickly serve citizens in need; enhanced productivity of dispatcher and highway workers
Highway department in county government
Twenty-one employees serving more than 8,400 citizens and over 500 miles of roads
Warren County lies in western Indiana between the Illinois border and the Wabash River. It is one of the most rural counties in the state with approximately 360 square miles of rich farmland, hills, valleys and heavily wooded areas. The Warren County Highway Department cares for over 500 miles of graveled and paved roads throughout the county for its more than 8,400 residents.
The Warren County Highway Department must make the most of its limited resources to care for its roads and ensure its citizens’ and workers’ safety in all kinds of unpredictable and harsh weather conditions. After years of drastic budget reductions, the department must also find ways to improve its productivity and reduce overall operating costs.
TeleNav Track™ from AT&T provides the Warren County Highway Department with an integrated solution, equipping its workers with Samsung Rugby™ II cell phones with TeleNav Track mobile workforce management software running over the AT&T wireless network. The dispatcher views the GPS locations of her workers via a Web-based map to quickly assign new jobs and divert workers to assist in emergency situations.
Keeping Citizens Safe
Warren County is expansive with over 500 miles of road – 60 percent graveled and 40 percent paved. Yet, the population is the second smallest in the state with a little more than 8,400 residents. The county’s budget is determined based on population versus square miles, so limited funds must cover a great deal of geography. In short, the county must make the most of its resources and time.
The benefits of using Telenav Track were so significant compared to using our two-way radios. It was an easy decision for us.”
- Kathy Poole, Assistant Supervisor, Warren County Highway Department
Mike Jackson, Highway Superintendent, and Kathy Poole, Assistant Highway Superintendent and Director of the Solid Waste District, work together to brainstorm ideas and creatively get everything done. Jackson explained, “The life of a highway worker is a 24x7 job. We repair the roads and keep them clear in all seasons. If a tree falls, if roads flood, or if there is a snowstorm, we are called on regardless of the day or time. Keeping Warren County citizens safe is our Number One priority.”
Thirteen full-time workers are dispatched for daily jobs and are on-call for emergencies and the busy winter season. Indiana winters can be harsh and unpredictable. “In February, a storm dumped extensive ice and snow on our roads,” described Poole. “A young woman was driving home from the hospital with her newborn in the backseat. She called us with a cry for help. With our new TeleNav Track from AT&T, we were able to quickly locate the nearest worker who opened a road for her. She made it home quickly and safely with her new baby.”
Taking a New Route
Life on the road wasn’t always easy for the county’s highway workers. Before using the TeleNav Track application, they relied on public-band, two-way radio communications. The Warren County landscape is hilly with vast wooded areas so transmission signals could be weak or dropped.
Other issues included the lack of privacy and costly wear-and-tear on the radios. “Residents could listen to our workers’ conversations,” explained Poole. “We needed 40 radios for our 40 vehicles. And because the radios were mounted in our vehicles, weather conditions caused antennas to freeze, cords to break and rubber gaskets to dry out.”
Jackson and Poole were considering some options when their AT&T representative told them about the TeleNav Track mobility solution. “Our representative provided us with a detailed business case outlining potential productivity gains,” said Poole. “We also received hands-on support and consideration. The benefits of using TeleNav Track were so significant compared to using our two-way radios. It was an easy decision for us.”
Every morning, workers are assigned their schedules. According to Poole, “Changes occur each day. It never fails!” Before TeleNav Track, if a resident needed assistance, Jackson and Poole would start calling around to each of the workers, attempting to locate and determine which one was closest to help.
Now Warren County Highway Department workers are equipped with Samsung Rugby II cell phones with TeleNav Track mobile workforce management software running over the AT&T wireless network. Viewing workers’ GPS locations via a Web-based map makes it easy for the county to quickly assign new jobs as they arise.
Poole described a typical situation, “The county gravel roads are typically narrow, some only about 12 feet wide. In the winter, it’s hard to tell if your vehicle is even on the road, so it’s easy to get stuck in a ditch. As a result, our school buses frequently need help. With TeleNav Track, we can quickly locate the closest worker to the stranded bus. Let’s face it: If you have 30 kids on a bus, you don’t want to hear ‘Let me see who I can find.’ We can now say, ‘I have someone two miles away, and he’ll be there in five minutes.’ TeleNav Track gives us the information we need to say that with confidence which, in turn, inspires confidence in our residents about our department and service.”
Taking Care of Workers
TeleNav Track also helps keep the county’s highway workers safer than before. “In the beginning, the guys felt we were always watching them – a kind of ‘big brother’ concern,” recalled Poole. “Now they realize it’s a safety benefit for them. And once they understood how we used TeleNav Track to help them save time, they readily accepted it.”
Gary Robinson, one of the county’s highway workers agreed, “Learning to use the new cell phone was much easier than I expected. I know I’m safer on the road with our new system.”
Improved safety also applies to the county’s recycle center employees. Poole follows the progress of these employees pulling trailers with mobile recycle bins. “When it’s 20 degrees and the wind is blowing 40 miles per hour, mechanisms can freeze. If our people get into trouble, I can immediately communicate with them. My TeleNav Track map helps me pinpoint exactly where they are on our roads so that I give precise directions to a mechanic. I no longer need to spend time going back and forth between the employee and mechanic.”
One of Poole’s favorite features is the TeleNav Track distress alert. When weather conditions get dangerous she creates and sends a text message to any or all workers to come back to the office. Since all workers carry their cell phones, they get the message and can immediately acknowledge it by simply pushing a button. “I know if they receive the message and read it,” said Poole. “It’s a tremendous safety benefit and time saver.”
Driving Value with Speed
The highway workers are now more productive than ever with TeleNav Track from AT&T. It has had a positive impact on workers’ days since they don’t waste precious time traveling back to the office for instructions and can react to situations while on the road. “While hard to quantify, the savings of time, mileage and fuel costs are no less real,” commented Poole.
Workers are easily accessible by carrying cell phones versus having two-way radios mounted in their vehicles. And with fewer devices – 19 cell phones replaced 40 two-way radios – Poole advises the department saves in overall communications costs, especially in high maintenance fees. “Compared to our two-way radios, our monthly communications services fees are about the same, but the benefits are so much greater,” clarified Poole.
Wireless timecards with online payroll reporting also save significant time. Workers clock in and out using their cell phones, and Poole creates automated payroll reports from the comfort of her home. “I used to spend every other Sunday evening in the office doing the weekly timecard report,” said Poole. “Since TeleNav Track is Web-based, I can now create the reports as well as track and help our workers any time of the day or night – all without leaving home.”
Poole is quick to place a value on the department’s responsiveness. “Our ability to react to unexpected situations has improved 100 percent,” claimed Poole. “Our citizens have commented on our speedy responses, and we get compliments about doing a great job. It’s transparent to them, but we know TeleNav Track is a big reason why we can answer their calls so well.”
Jackson added, “It’s hard to quantify the value of helping that single Mom with two kids in the back-seat trying to get them to the babysitter and herself to work. TeleNav Track from AT&T is a valuable tool. It works very well for us and for our citizens.”