Is Vehicle Tracking (Fleet Management) an Invasion of Employee Privacy?


An interesting story originating from the Sydney Morning Herald last week, and doing the rounds in New Zealand, says that ‘Privacy Experts’ and Unions are saying that vehicle tracking systems used by companies are an invasion of staff privacy.

It goes on to talk about a former Telstra employee who committed suicide shortly after having a vehicle tracking system attached to his company vehicle. The employee was being treated for depression and the story infers that his suicide was in part a consequence of Fleet Management equipment being installed in his vehicle.

Over the last decade I have been in various ways involved with Vehicle and Personal Tracking technology and only once have I come accross a company that wanted it to be able to check up on the honesty of their staff.

There is no question that some companies have found a sudden increase in profitability and decrease in vehicle costs since they put FM systems in place, but monitoring staff integrity was not the reason the system went in. This particular company wanted to know which vehicles were close to clients that needed urgent service so that they could allocate the nearest vehicle to provide a quality reponsive service.

A few years ago I met the CEO of a rapid response plumbing firm. They guaranteed a minimum response time for people who needed a plumber in an emergancy. He was able to manage this as a consequence of using Navman Wireless technology to locate the nearest vehicle to the job.

They also wanted to compare time based service contracts to the actual time the vehicle was parked at the client site. They wanted to know if they had under or overquoted because there was sometimes a gap between the sales person’s enthusiasm to win a contract and the reality of the job being done.

What did happen was that a number of staff people whom they had suspected of taking liberties with the vehicle on the job and after hours, left the company within a month or so of their own volition.

I am against (and it may well be illegal) tracking people and their vehicles without their knowledge. The only people able to do that should be the Police and even then, only with a legal warrant produced through the courts.

On the other hand there are many potential benefits. In the courier and freight industry, Fleet Management means that people can easily apply track and trace to good being picked up and delivered without needing additional staff to place calls to drivers.

In the security industry it means that security guards on patrol can confirm the safety and location of their staff and also provide clear evidence to clients that their premises have been visited when they said they were. It can also mean that these people can be backed up in an emergancy. This technology is used internationally to track and protect the safety of VIP’s such as politicians in government vehicles.

Another area that is becoming popular is using this technology to keep track of a personal vehicle’s location. For example, when Dad lends the car to his son or daughter who is just popping down to the shops or a mate’s place, who could be boy racers. There have been a number of occassions where a stolen vehicle has been recovered with the thief still inside, such as the case earlier this year. Sometimes a car is irreplacable such as a classic, or sports car. Insurance money can’t always allow someone to recover the time spent in restoring or bulding a vehicle. This technology can also be used to secure trailer water craft and motorcycles which are often easy targets for criminals.

Another area which is becoming very popular and which I have written about a number of times before is tracking elderly people. With the Baby Boomers living longer and being more mobile, there is a growing population of elderly people, some of whom are sprightly of mind, but less of body and at risk of breaking hips or other body parts, while others are sound in body but suffering onset of Alzheimers Disease or other forms of dementia and likely to wander off and not remember where they live. Whether it is the Retirement Village or Rest Home, or their children, this common problem becomes much easier to manage if you can send a text message to the device they are carrying and receive one back with the nearest street address to their current location.

I think tracking is a great thing for unions to use to help them shore up membership and totally endorse them helping people out when it comes to unethical practice on behalf of the company they work for. However, in most cases FM (Fleet Management) is about providing better service to a company’s clients, being able to stay competitive in a time of heavy traffic, high cost of petrol and consumers who expect cheaper prices.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Judder bars slow down traffic


The road I live on is fairly narrow and is often used as a shortcut from one suburb to the next. Boy racers like to race up the road to the intersection where my house is situated on a corner site, testing out their turbo’s. A few years ago I joined fellow residents in the street and called for a council meeting to do something about it. We asked for a couple of chicanes with side barriers, basically barriers that run at an angle to the road and force people to slow down to navigate around them. But no, North Shore City council decided to put in fairly long judder bars, that is they go up and the road rises for a bit over a car width and then they go down again.

Now 2 things happen, the first is that people coming from the intersection go reasonably slowly over the judder and then plant it going down the hill. The main casualties are pets, although there are accidents from time to time as they get to the first corner and meet someone coming the other way.

The other thing is people come racing up the road and either don’t notice the judder bar or forget it is there until they have hit it at speed, which is pretty silly because it is right before a T junction. Every night we hear the scrapes of car underbellies as their cars get gravel rash and houses on both sides of the road are showing cracks from the impact, although council denies that this is possible.

Last night at 4:30 AM I heard one of these crashes followed by some clattering. It was pretty loud and I jumped out of bed and raced to the windows to see if there had in fact been an accident. I didn’t see anything and went back to bed. This morning, I got a call to say come and have a look on the corner and you can see on the photo what I found. A rubbish truck had managed to fkip itself and land between 2 trees after knocking down a couple of signs. I hope the driver was ok.

It’s pretty obvious what happened. He must have been coming up the road way too fast, didn’t see the judder bar which would have been like a ramp for motor stunts. He would have been airborn on an angle as he realised there was a corner coming, started to turn just before he hit the air, landed on 2 or 3 wheels , overcorrected and flipped.

If we had the chicane we asked for, there may have been some damage to the truck, although only a fraction of what there was as you can see from the photo and the main damage would have been to the driver’s pride. But then I’m not a traffic engineer, I’m just using a little common sense.judderbar.jpgjudderbar.jpgjudderbar.jpg