City of Harare (CoH) has introduced Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to improve fleet management and enhance service delivery.
CoH Director of Works, Engineer Philip Pfukwa, said GIS systems are designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present spatial data. Spatial data refers to the information that represents positions, and can also be referred as geographical data.
He further explained that data is captured in field surveys using handheld GPS devices, and can then be analysed and managed in GIS software. The GIS software can then be used to produce maps, statistics, figures, and other useful information as required.
He said 80% of all local authority decisions are based on geographical or spatial data. Hence for effective and efficient decision making, management or local authorities need a tool that is able to analyse this data. “For City of Harare to achieve World Class City Status, it has to adopt world class technology and best practices, which are attained by using GIS,” he said.
Eng Pfukwa said GIS is being used by management to help decision making, and as a tool to send out information to residents. “Water Supply Situation Maps can be publicised to residents to communicate the water availability in their area. Once fully operational, it will also assist in inventory management as assets are mapped based on their location,” adding that the locations of skip bins have been mapped.
He pointed out that the Pilot Project was done in Bluff Hill where 10% of the properties were added on the billing system, and that residents are made aware of services through the publishing of Water Supply Situation maps, garbage collection maps, road maps, streetlight locations, and so on.
Meanwhile, CoH spokesperson Michael Chideme said this multipurpose system is also being used to track refuse collection trucks and curb errant driving to maximise efficiency.
According to CoH’s Corporate Communications Division, in its in-house publication, Sunshine News, this geo-fencing and computerised system records speed, distance covered per trip, and per day, traffic offences, stoppages, idling, braking routines, and route adherence. Speaking to the publication late last year, the Director of Works said points are deducted for errant driving, leading to disciplinary action.“We punish drivers for offences committed, and commend those who operate within limits,” he said. Some council drivers have reportedly been accused of using council vehicles for personal business at the expense of services.
In some developed countries this geo-fencing technique is even being accessed on mobile phones, in addition to laptops and desktop computers. World over, global positioning systems (GPS) and general packet radio services (GPRS) technologies have been used in conjunction with GIS to help provide valuable information related to planning and fleet management, as well as finding stolen vehicles. Since the technology uses satellite systems, it can also locate vehicles – even those that had crossed international borders.