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City expects to save money on deicing chemicals with GPS system.

The Fort Collins, Colorado Streets Department has contracted with CompassCom Inc. (Englewood, Colorado) to implement a GPS--based automatic vehicle location system (AVL) with a new capability. In addition to reporting the precise positions of streets department snowplows and sweepers, the AVL will report road temperature conditions to the dispatch center so the streets department superintendent can determine appropriate deicing strategies.

Fort Collins averages 16 winter storms totaling 60 in. of snow each year. The city alternates between granular and liquid deicing chemicals depending on temperature and conditions. Generally, the less expensive granular is spread during a storm with temperatures above 0[degrees]F, while the liquid is used below zero. The rates at which chemicals are applied to streets also must be varied with temperature.

"Our objective is to putdown the correct deicing chemical at the best rate, and AVL will help us do that," said Larry Schneider, Fort Collins streets superintendent, who now will be able to monitor the chemical spreading rate for each plow." AVL will also allow us to improve the efficiency of our plowing and sweeping routes."

CompassCom is equipping seven streets department snowplows and six street sweepers with the Orbtrac-100 AVL system from Orbital TMS Group (Germantown, Maryland). The system uses a GPS receiver designed specifically to track location and speed of a vehicle. The system also takes inputs from vehicle sensors to report road/air temperature, spreader rate, and plow position. A built-in CDPD modem transmits the position and other data via AT&T wireless infrastructure back to the dispatch center. This information is displayed graphically on a map-based computer screen.

The system includes a cabmounted electronic message unit, called status head, that allows the driver to receive text instructions from the streets superintendent. The driver can respond with a push of a button to transmit any one of 29 standard messages.

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Publication:Public Works
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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