Lamar county gets $41,000 GPS system

Published 12:29 am Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The new $41,000 global positioning system in Lamar County will more than make up its cost in fuel and time, county officials say.

“There’s going to be a lot of benefits,” County Administrator Chuck Bennett said. “It’s going to allow us to make better use of our personnel’s time, it’s going to help us be better with our routing systems. There’s just a lot of applications for this.”

Seven of the 10 units are on garbage trucks. Drivers can punch one button to report brush piles at houses on their routes, road manager Jake Sones said. That lets officials map out routes and crews for brush pickup rather than having brush truck drivers drive around looking for branches to pick up.

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“So, my brush trucks can go to these addresses and they’re not wasting time and fuel.”

Sones and his two assistant road supervisors carry the other three units in their vehicles. That lets them punch in the exact sites for such problems as overhanging limbs, missing road signs, potholes and crumbling road shoulders.

“We have also programmed ours where if I’m going by, and I notice a road sign missing, hit a button, and it gives the closest address to where that sign is at, and they can go straight to it,” Sones said.

The system provided by PinPoint Solutions Inc. is very easy to use, the officials said.

Bennett said that the past few Fridays, Lamar County Fire Coordinator George Stevens has been taking one of the devices and mapping locations for fire hydrants.

“By law, he’s got to know where every fire hydrant is in the county, whether it’s the cities or outside of them,” Bennett said. “Now, if we have added some new ones, all he has to do is drive around, and boom, boom, boom, he’s done.”

Perhaps, the most important application of the system is the one that county officials hope they have to use the least: pinpointing disaster damage and providing proof of it.

“You have GPS data. You have the date, you have the time and it gets better, because the little machine has got a camera and a voice recorder on it, and you can pinpoint and document it right away,” Bennett said.

It also will allow county personnel to conduct a disaster triage of sorts.

“It’ll help us decide where we need to get there with our trucks and our equipment, and then go down the list,” Sones said.