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Speed the Plow (and the Dump Truck and the Backhoe...)

Dayton, Ohio, deployed an RFID fleet-management solution to alleviate congestion at a city parking lot for maintenance vehicles.
By Michael Belfiore
Aug 24, 2014

When the snow flies during Dayton, Ohio's typically blustery winters, there is no time to waste in getting plows out on the streets. Every minute plows idle is another minute snow piles up, snarling traffic and endangering drivers. Yet, congestion at the city's Department of Water parking lot on Monument Avenue—from which many of the snowplows operate—often prevented the vehicles from entering to refill with salt in a timely manner.

Plows, dump trucks, backhoes, garbage trucks and all the other city vehicles based at that lot had to share access with delivery trucks and other visiting vehicles. That meant city vehicles had to wait three to five minutes per visitor to enter the gate, as a security guard verified each driver's authorization. While this was a particular concern during snowstorms, the delays affected other city vehicles year-round.

A police car enters the Monument Avenue lot via the automated lane; the visitor lane is immediately to the car's left.
"It is not uncommon for a line of traffic to accumulate during busy periods or during high-volume periods, such as snow emergencies," says Ben Swain, a senior engineer at the city's Department of Water. "The City of Dayton sought a means to more efficiently provide access to the site."

In June 2012, Dayton deployed an RFID fleet-management solution that automates access to and from the parking lot for the 100 to 200 authorized vehicles that use the lot daily. The new system has also enabled the city to make better use of its resources by staffing the guard shack only during regular business hours.

The project was conceived as part of Dayton's ongoing push to streamline operations with the help of RFID technology. Following the success of its RFID-enabled recycling program, which Dayton introduced in 2011 (see RFID News Roundup: Dayton Recycles With RFID), city officials began looking for other ways in which the technology could improve life for its employees and residents. In 2013, the city instituted an RFID-powered solution to identify the utility companies responsible for fixing the road cuts that they make in order to access their cables and pipes (see RFID Speeds Up Roadway Repairs).

"In an environment in which municipalities are being asked to maintain services without increasing budgets," Swain states, "the City of Dayton is again demonstrating how RFID can serve its citizens."

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