Jul 1, 2002 12:00 PM, By JACQUELINE EMIGH

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“Geofenced zones,” connected by “geofenced corridors,” were set up around Ground Zero and the other sites. By tracking the trucks, officials were also able to monitor the actions of the drivers.

“We were able to start identifying patterns of behavior. If a driver arrived late, the traffic analyst would look at why. Maybe the driver stopped for lunch, or maybe he ran into traffic,” Shalmon says.

“Ninety-nine percent of the drivers were extremely driven to do their jobs. But there were big concerns, because the loads consisted of highly sensitive material. One driver, for example, took an extended lunch break of an hour and a half. There was nothing criminal about that, but he was dismissed. There were also cases where trucks did little detours from their routes,” Shalmon says.

“Although the loads of steel stolen in September were recovered, the spectre of other abuses was raised,” recalls IDC-Criticom's Menard. “If a truck left the area, we dispatched the City of New York, which was working with seven different municipal, state and federal police forces.”

Analysis of the GPS results led to a number of changes in trucking operations, widely credited with cutting costs and accelerating the clean-up. “Within 24 hours, the city began to make changes,” says Greg Schnute, executive vice president at MIT. Instead of hauling debris directly, trucks began moving it to two piers in Manhattan, for transmission by barge and tugboat first to a staging area in Brooklyn, and then from Brooklyn to Fresh Kills.

Consequently, the number of loads per truck rose from four to 10, representing a 250 percent improvement. Needing fewer trucks per shift, the city cut the number of trucking contractors from four to one.

The numbers of checkpoints and human auditors diminished, likewise. Moreover, by eliminating unnecessary traffic at Ground Zero, officials gained further efficiencies, reducing vehicle wash station cycles by 33 percent.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of IDC-Criticom and its two subcontractors, a clean-up originally projected to last until September was completed in May. Defying previous estimates of $7 billion, the total clean-up bill ran to just $750 million. “We found out how fast we could act,” Schnute says. “It made us all proud to be Americans.”

For its part, PowerLoc is now working on a personal location device (PLD) similar to a VLD.

At this point, most GPS devices rely on cellular technology for communications with a satellite base station. “That's because of the size and power of the GPS battery that would otherwise be required. But there will come a time when more portable devices communicate directly with satellites,” Shalmon predicts.

Meanwhile, PowerLoc is discussing its PLD with various departments in the City of New York. “The city might want to be able to track police and firemen, for instance. There may be situations where public safety workers are in distress, but unable to use a cell phone,” Shalmon explains.



Jacqueline Emigh is a New York-based writer and a regular contributor to Access Control & Security Systems


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