Garbage Cans

Hamilton city councillors will vote Thursday to push forward with installing a new GPS system in garbage trucks.

The city plans to purchase and install a new GPS system for its fleet of garbage trucks and waste management vehicles, as well as a computerized program to make its routes more efficient, by the end of the year.

Elected officials will consider Thursday whether to ask for bids from contractors this fall to provide the service, or whether to select a vendor without competition. The move comes in the wake of a media investigation showing city garbage collectors work fewer hours than their privatized counterparts.

The city’s budget for each component is around $85,000 — about $170,000 total, said Raffaella Morello, a policy analyst in the waste management division. She wrote the report for the city’s public works committee, which meets Thursday.

“We would like to have something [on] the fleet by the end of the year,” she said.

The new system would allow the city to monitor the locations of its workers in vehicles, evaluate worker safety based on their location, and to more efficiently plan their routes and schedule.

The city has an existing vehicle locator program for emergency vehicles, instituted as a pilot program in 2007 in response to legislated emergency response times.

But that program is long in the tooth. It doesn’t have “recent industry and web-based capabilities,” Morello wrote in the report.

“It is at the end of its useful life cycle."

The city could spend $38,000 in the short term to install its old vehicle locator technology on the waste trucks, but city staff don’t recommend that Band Aid as it may not be compatible with the new vendor.

Should the city choose to solicit bids for the program, staff estimate putting the request for bids out later this summer and choosing a vendor to install the system by the end of the year, as city council has asked.

To speed things up, the city could choose to select a vendor for both programs without asking for bids. There is a vendor that provides both systems for “one of the largest waste management companies in the United States” that could meet the city’s budget and timelines, Morello’s report states.

Morello would not disclose the name of that vendor Wednesday.