Keeping large fleets of vehicles operating safely and effectively out on the roads is a serious issue for many public and private entities in Southern Colorado, among them the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office (LASO). An Evergreen Natural Resources official said his company had offered to pay for the installation and first year of operation of a new Geoforce vehicle tracking system at a cost of $5,146 that could enhance driver safety for the LASO personnel who drive thousands of miles each year on the highways and byways of Colorado’s largest county by area.
George Holdershaw, Evergreen’s Director of Health, Safety and the Environment, presented information about the new tracking system at a County Board of Commissioners work session on Tuesday, July 23, along with Andrew Keller, Geoforce’s regional sales manager, who noted that his company offered free live trainings for the drivers who would be using the Geoforce system. No voting is allowed at County Board work sessions, so approval of the new tracking system plan is expected to be on the agenda of an upcoming regular meeting of the Board.
Holdershaw discussed why Evergreen had chosen the Geoforce tracking system over the many other tracking options available to the energy production company. “When Evergreen acquired Pioneer Natural Resources last summer, Pioneer was on a different system,” Holdershaw said. “I was tasked with finding out if that was the best system for Evergreen or whether we should look elsewhere. The cost to operate Geoforce is much less than the one Pioneer was using. The one thing it doesn’t do that we had before is to monitor seatbelt use. We called that a reasonable thing to drop, and we’ll talk to our drivers about seatbelt use. Beyond that, this is a system, and I’ve looked at many of them over the years, that is less expensive to operate and it gives us the information we want.”
County Sheriff Derek Navarette told board members that he felt the Geoforce system would suit the needs of his department very well. Commissioner Luis Lopez II asked the sheriff if he thought the Sheriff Office’s annual budget would be able to afford the annual costs of the system, should Evergreen decline to pay for the service after that first year. The sheriff said he thought the annual operating costs of the Geoforce system would fit within his annual budget, and spelled out what he liked about the new tracking system. “We can see what those costs are, and I don’t think it’s an expensive cost,” Navarette said. “We can have a look at it about nine months in and see how cost effective it is. I like the program. I like its capacity and I think we’re very fortunate that Evergreen brought this to us. What we’re trying to explain is that we get a lot of complaints. At one point we had a citizen who had issues about our driving, and we needed information about what was going on. With this system, we can track whether it’s us or, if it’s not, we can say it wasn’t us.”
County Administrator Felix Lopez asked Holdershaw if Evergreen’s personnel had noticed any dead spots in coverage with the Geoforce system. Holdershaw said the new system, whose G3 service pings off of area cellphone towers, had ways to compensate for any dead spots in coverage. “There are some dead areas up in the canyons,” he said. “But the device continues to record and then, when it picks up a signal, it relays the information back to us.”
Geoforce’s Andrew Keller said the Denver and Texas-based company now tracked approximately 130,000 different assets with its system. “We do have the people. We do tractors and trailers and anything that has wheels and is big, we’re tracking it,” Keller said. “It’s now operational in 70-plus countries and it’s re-programmable to increase its capability. There’s speed incorporating, rapid acceleration and mileage. It will give you a calculation on fuel usage. It can track how much fuel is used per vehicle.
“There are many other things it can do, such as customer reports and tracking safety. The one thing we take pride in is that our system is built around the driver. After all, he’s basically the one making the decisions. You can’t go to the executive level and say, ‘We’re going to drive this way’. We have the person behind the wheel making those decisions, and so we want buy-in for the driver to say, ‘This is how I understand how this system works.’ The organization that uses this system basically makes its own decisions, but it’s very definitely safety first. If we take care of the driver, the system will take care of itself.”
Jim Montoya, Evergreen’s director of public relations and a former county commissioner, said the company he worked for was doing what it did out of a spirit of public service. “Evergreen Natural Resources is out to help Las Animas County any way we can,” Montoya said. “We would like to help the Sheriff’s Office do its job in the most effective manner possible.”
More information about Geoforce is available on the website: www.geoforce.com.