My Writing: Awareness, Absenteesim, and Accomplishment (August 21 to 28)

 

Cell Phone Distraction May Depend on Who’s Driving describes the loss of situational awareness that airline pilots get. What is situational awareness and how is it similar to what happens to distracted drivers?

 

Be Aware of the “Disability Managers” at Your Workplace describes disability and absenteeism and who’s checking up on you when you call in sick. According to Statistics Canada, an employee who is absent due to disability may require some management.

 

 

 

City of Vaughan Embraces a Four Seasons Solution describes how Public Works departments must manage public perception as well as public roadways. The City of Vaughan has relied on a Webtech Wireless solution for years to accomplish just that.

City of Vaughan Embraces a Four Seasons Solution

Once just a small town with a vision, the City of Vaughan is growing fast. Located north of Toronto, current projections show that its population is expected to almost double by 2030. For the City of Vaughan to keep up with growth in this region of overlapping jurisdictional responsibilities, it must find ways to get the most out of its technology investment.

According to Shawn McKenzie, Senior Engineering Assistant at Public Works, “It’s a barrel of monkeys for residents to understand and to many residents, anyone with a plow blade is a City truck,” so Public Works must manage public perception as well as public roadways. In the future, the ability to share data among different jurisdictions will increasingly clarify public perceptions of who’s doing what.

Recently, Public Works mandated that its third-party contractors use GPS/AVL Locators, thereby enabling it to track how efficiently both its primary suburban and secondary rural roads are maintained across different seasons. This decision keeps contractors accountable and citizens content. As proof of reduced complaints, its initial Webtech Wireless deployment calling for a “Where’s my Plow?” Web site and Call Centre, became so efficient that as calls dropped away, it eliminated the need for a Call Centre altogether.

Today, the City of Vaughan has realized the great opportunity that is intrinsic in a GPS/AVL solution and, with hundreds of vehicles now equipped and reporting, the word is spreading. The City of Vaughan’s Parks Board (with a fleet of sidewalk plows), has just adopted a Webtech Wireless solution for its vehicles too.

“When we make appointments to send our water trucks to an address and the client isn’t there, the driver needs to move on to the next appointment. If someone claims the water truck never came, we can prove the site call was made.”
— Shawn McKenzie, Public Works, City of Vaughan

My Writing: Allergies, Communications, and Workplaces (August 14 to 20)

Last night, I was watching the film Freakonomics based on the book of the same name. What it’s about at its essence is how the vast amount of data we collect now tells a remarkable story about human nature. By looking at the numbers, we can now micromanage pretty much everything. Perhaps, in the same way Ford’s assembly line created a monotonous workplace conformity, infinitesimal management of data carries with it a tyranny of its own.

http://www.disabilityclaimdenied.caWhen Is An Allergy A Disability? describes how, in an attempt to accommodate more passengers, airlines got themselves in more hot water with people with allergies. But, when are allergies considered disabilities?

 

 

Webtech WirelessDare Mighty Things is a story I wrote for this week’s email campaign at Webtech Wireless. The video I reference describes the “seven minutes of terror” during which the NASA team has no telematics (or communication) between itself (Earth) and Mars. I go on to draw the comparison with Webtech Wireless’ offerings by saying that, while fleet management is admittedly not rocket science, similarities abound when it comes to deploying a reliable automated telematics solution—anywhere, anytime.

 

 

http://www.disabilityclaimdenied.caBe Aware of the “Disability Managers” at Your Workplace describes disability and absenteeism. In it, according to Statistics Canada, an employee who is absent due to disability may require some management.

My Writing: Aging Infrastructure and dangerous motorcycling (August 7 to 13)

Town of HempsteadFresh Life for Long Island’s Aging Infrastructure describes how communities, such as New York State’s town of Hempstead, which boomed over 50 years ago and now suffer from aging infrastructure problems, are using GPS technology to do more with less.

 

ICBCAutoInsuranceClaimsLawyermotorcycleBC’s Most Beautiful and Dangerous Motorcycle Roads is a quick survey of the most frequently mapped BC roads are in the province’s interior and north regions, describing where in the province most motorcycle accidents occur.

 

Fresh Life for Long Island’s Aging Infrastructure

InterFleet Hempstead, New YorkWith a population over 750,000, Long Island’s town of Hempstead prides itself as ‘the largest township in America’. Due to its proximity to New York City’s Borough of Queens, Hempstead was one of the first post-war communities to be suburbanized and now, with aging infrastructure, Hempstead must balance its many assets with diverse new 21st Century challenges.

According to The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), “In a country as vast as the U.S., with such great geographical, historical and political diversity, one challenge seems sadly universal: the infrastructure we rely on to live and thrive is rapidly coming unraveled. Roads, bridges, public transit, airports, water and sewage systems—most are failing to keep pace with the expanding needs of a burgeoning population, and some are virtually on the brink of collapse.” The ASCE, which also annually releases a state-by-state infrastructure report card, New York’s current top-three infrastructure concerns are roads, bridges, and mass transit.

While Hempstead is no exception, the Town has been able to breathe fresh life into its road maintenance fleet using an InterFleet GPS/AVL solution from Webtech Wireless. Describing that solution, Deputy Commissioner of Highways, Craig Mollo says, “It’s fantastic. We love it! We had 35 units installed into sweepers and 30 installed in snowplows (about one third of our fleet), and within a year, we were able to re-organize our entire mapping system. As a result, we found that we could reduce our equipment and drivers by five, redeploying them where they could be used most effectively.”

For communities, such as Hempstead, that boomed over 50 years ago and now suffer from aging infrastructure problems, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of federal funding. Last week, Washington’s Transportation Secretary, LaHood, announced $787 million to “repair and modernize the nation’s aging transit infrastructure”. With improvements coming to mass transit, road maintenance cannot be far behind.

Even so, Hemptead has found that, with the success of a GPS/AVL for its sweepers and snowplows, the Town plans further InterFleet deployments for its payloaders, pickup trucks, and other vehicles used for highway maintenance, sanitation, and traffic control—eventually 400 pieces of equipment. “With public safety and wellbeing of residents a priority for us, we also plan to install safety buttons to send emergency alerts,” says Mollo.

My Writing: Habits, Racing, and Oil (July 30 to August 6)

I’m constantly confounded by the extent to which subject/verb and noun/pronoun errors cause mayhem to the English language. Consider the following:

Ottawa’s attempts to fast track Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline are just one example.

I am in agreement with the choice of “are” over “is”, because the subject of the sentence “attempts” is clearly plural. Where it gets crazy is in the choice to end the sentence, “just one example”. What could be more singular than that? For what it’s worth, here are my solutions:

Ottawa’s attempts to fast track Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline are just examples of…(content needed from writer)

Ottawa’s attempt to fast track Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline is just one example.

As for this week’s writings, here are just one example…

5 Dangerous Driving Habits to Avoid this Long Weekend points the blame at mom and dad (and other middle aged drivers) to smarten up. If the ICBC statisticians are to be believed, the dangerous drivers are the older ones.

 

Pedal to the Metal describes the strange case of the overturned ICBC claim against a fellow racing (and smashing) his corvette in a speedway. In the eyes of the judge, the difference between a motor “racing” event and “training” event is all in the timing.

 

How to Reduce Dependence on Offshore Oil describes our efforts to lessen ourselves of offshore oil dependence. One way is to rejig our entire fleet of vehicle to use natural gas; another, is to lessen our consumption through GPS/AVL technology. This time, what costs less is also easy on the environment.

How to Reduce Dependence on Offshore Oil

How to Reduce Dependence on Offshore OilThere is much controversy about the remaining oil available to run our fleets of cars, trucks, trains, planes, and all else, but what’s certain is natural gas is plentiful, cheaper, and easier on our environment. Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting of methane and other hydrocarbons, which provides heating and electricity to buildings, but is increasingly being considered as a fuel for vehicles.

The American business magnate and financier, T. Boone Pickens, is advocating that Americans work closely with Canada and Mexico to create North American energy alliance to reduce dependence on OPEC oil. Pickens asserts that the United States alone has three times more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil.

“These countries [Canada and Mexico] are extremely important to us [United States] and we’re extremely important to them. Tie up with them, have a NA energy alliance and it would make our country much, much more secure.” — T. Boone Pickens

Recently Pickens spoke out in the USA Today against an editorial that advocated for exporting American natural gas, as he sees natural gas as the ticket to energy independence. His Pickens Plan advocates using America’s abundant natural gas reserves to break the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

The investment magazine, Street Authority, gives a clear picture of Pickens’ vision: “Clean Energy Fuels, which is backed by T. Boone Pickens, has taken a different approach. The company has built a network of natural gas re-fueling stations that could see rising traffic as more natural gas-powered vehicles are on the road. Yet, the real focus for the company has thus far been on corporate and government fleets, many of which have already made the move to natural gas. An expanding network of stations is expected to boost sales roughly 50% in 2011 to around $300 million, finally enabling the company to break even. Congressional legislation would help to ignite this business model, and expansion plans could take sales to $500 million within a few years.”

Beyond the type of fuel a fleet uses, study after study has shown that improved driver behavior, (such as reduced idling and decreased speeding), also produces significant fuel savings. In addition, improved route optimization through automated vehicle location technology (seeing your vehicles on a map so you can deploy them most effectively), is at the core of why our solutions produce a quick return on investment. A GPS/AVL fleet management solution allows you to see where your vehicles are in real time, and this real-time knowledge enables you to allocate resources where they’re most needed.

You may be caught in the cross hairs of greening your fleet AND lowering costs. The good news for you is this: a leaner fleet is also a greener fleet. By making your fleet more cost effective you also make it more environmentally friendly too.

My Writing: Being Highly Effective (July 23 – 30)

Webtech WirelessThis week’s writing includes my first contribution to Webtech Wireless’ weekly email campaign. Previous to this, I would copy edit but this time I own it. It goes out to about 16,000 recipients. Every week, we gain a few and lose a few.

 

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets to honour the passing of Stephen Covey and be true to the intent of the Webtech Wireless blog, I revised his The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People through the eyes of the fleet management solutions Webtech Wireless offers.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets

Sad news last week with the passing of author Stephen Covey. Around the world, people in decision-making positions have taken cues from his writings and seminars to increase their productivity, happiness, and of course, success of their companies. To honor Mr. Covey, and be true to the intent of this blog (keep our finger on the pulse of AVL/GPS technologies for fleet management), we’d like to revisit his The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People through the eyes of well-deployed fleet management solutions.

1. Be Proactive—Take risks and accept new challenges to achieve goals.

Steve Troyer of Troyer Ventures, an oil and gas service provider, recognized early on the need for a comprehensive solution to solve the paper jam—from dispatch to journey management. Even while many companies remained reluctant to adapt and change, Steve had a vision to lead in technology integration and set a standard for the industry.

“Our ability to provide efficient services allows us to continue to grow the industry in our community, and that means more jobs. When the company is strong we can grow. That just makes sense” —Steve Troyer, Owner, Troyer Ventures

2. Begin with the End in Mind—Bring projects to completion and unite teams and organizations under a shared vision, mission, and purpose.

Thousands of customers benefit from our solutions. In each case, a customer starts with a specific goal in mind—reducing fuel economy, improving vehicles and driver performance, or mitigating risks—each implementation has specific organizational or business goals that our customers want to achieve.

“By installing these systems, we will both prolong the life of City infrastructure and keep more money in the pockets of Ottawa taxpayers.”
—Mayor Larry O’Brien, City of Ottawa

3. Put First Things First—Getting the most important things done first encourages direct effectiveness

Each telematics deployment comes with unique challenges. Our proven pilot process has demonstrated time and again that getting all the pieces of the puzzle in place before a major roll out is the first step in getting to the end goal of solving your challenges with an automated GPS/AVL solution.

“The training was very comprehensive and the Webtech team has really put together a program for all levels of a corporate structure. I definitely would recommend the Webtech training program.”
—Tim Margetts (M. Ed), Director of Safety Canadian Freightways

4. Think Win/Win—Seeking mutual benefit increases group momentum

Reducing salt usage is good for the environment and fits well with municipal, provincial, and state cost saving efforts. The City of Ottawa implemented the Webtech Wireless winter operations solution for government fleets. By gaining the ability to identify excess salt usage by its contractors, the City reduced its salt costs by 20%.

“We cannot keep trading short-term cost for long-term cost.”
—City of Ottawa

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood—Listening first helps you understand problems, resulting in targeted solutions.

In order to be fair to all drivers, management at Tennessee-based Dement Construction mounted a large TV screen in the office. Running our Quadrant Manager and refreshed once a minute, vehicles show up in real-time on the monitor in a highly public space.

“Trucks get there and back a lot faster. Everyone knows that they are visible on the map and every person is equally accountable for where they are.”
—Drew Newmon, Office Manager, Dement Construction

6. Synergize—Leverage the diversity of individuals to increase levels of success.

Webtech Wireless has the most experienced people in the telematics business. We started in 1999 and are pioneers in developing, deploying, and supporting telematics technology. Every time we work with an existing or new customer, we seek ways to collaborate with your teams to create a solution that will work for you in your environment with your vehicles and drivers.

“Webtech Wireless brings a sense of partnership and flexibility to handling multiple challenges.”
—Steve Gaston, Information Services Manager, Sierra Pacific Industries

7. Sharpen the Saw—Implement continuous improvements and safeguards against “burnout” and subsequent non-productivity.

For Sierra Pacific Industries, information services manager, Steve Gaston estimates that their drivers were wasting twenty minutes of overtime a day filling out paperwork. With a Webtech Wireless solution, they saved $300,000 per year (based on 225 drivers working 200 days per year) in overtime. Individually for the drivers, there was an unseen benefit to the changes too:

“Our drivers get to go home [earlier] and see their spouses and kids.” –Steve Gaston

Mr. Covey was injured in a bicycle accident in April of this year, and last week succumbed to his injuries. He will be missed, yet his legacy lives on.

In memoriam, Stephen Covey, 1932 – 2012

My Writing: What’s the most common grammar error? – (July 9 – 23)

It’s been a couple of weeks without an update, but the writing goes on (along with lots of copy editing of others’ works not mentioned here). This gives me an excuse to use a unit of measure almost unknown in North American English: the fortnight, British English for two weeks (fourteen days).

I recently heard that English doesn’t suffer from a lack of a clear second person plural, but in fact from a lack of second person singular. The classic greasy-diner waitress who asks, “Okay, what do yous guys want?” is not inventing a second person plural to distinguish from its identical singular form, but is in fact doubling an already second person plural form. “You” is plural; the singular form is “thou”. So, next time you’re dining alone, an informed waitress could ask you, “What dost thou want?” Or, maybe not.

Below are my corporate blog post for the last two weeks:

What Do Lawyers Cost? is overview of what you need to know before you decide to hire a lawyer to represent your claim. You want one who acts solely in your best interests, advises you to protect your rights, positions your claim to obtain a fair settlement from your perspective, and decides what compensation you deserve for your case.

 

Disabled, “Yes”; Unemployable, “No” describes the Government of Canada’s 2012 Economic Action Plan. By investing an additional $30 million over three years into the Opportunities Fund,  more Canadians with disabilities have the opportunity to become gainfully employed.

 

ICBC and Drunk Drivingdescribes ICBC’s aims in preventing drunk driving, which includes convincing drivers (demographically young men) that making excuses and rationales for why it’s “okay” to have a few before getting behind the wheel is part of the problem of drunk driving itself.