Keeping track of military vehicles


Peter Mallett

A digital tracking system designed to improve the safety of Canadian Armed Forces drivers has been introduced at CFB Esquimalt’s base transport unit.

Thirteen vehicles at Base Logistics’ Transport Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (TEME) unit were recently equipped with the Trakopolis digital tracking system. The high-tech equipment combines GPS technology, mobile communications and cloud computing. It ensures drivers are never entirely alone while in remote locations, with their vehicle easily tracked.

It was introduced five months ago and became fully operational in early May. TEME vehicles using the new tech include three highway-style tractor trailers and four highway cruiser buses. Warrant Officer Terence Whittaker, Formation Vehicle Fleet Manager, says the safety factor was the main reason for the introduction of Trakopolis. In the past, he and other supervisors had to rely on contacting drivers via telephone and even word of mouth to find out their location.

“We needed to have the ability to communicate directly with our drivers, especially when they are in the mountains and out of cell service, and we need to know where they are if they break down or are in some sort of an emergency. Trakopolis greatly improves the safety of our drivers and passengers and the safety of our assets.”

Beyond safety, the technology is an asset to business management.

It can track distance travelled, fuel consumption, and hours of usage. It can also tell if a driver is idling too long or driving too fast.

Transponders located under the dashboard use either cell phone or satellite signals to relay information to computer terminals in TEME’s office.

“This information is vitally important because the numbers help us understand how we can do better business,” said WO Whittaker. “It allows us to determine how long a vehicle has been booked out, its actual driving time, and to answer questions like do we need to purchase more vehicles, have fewer vehicles, or rent or lease a vehicle to improve cost efficiencies.”

TEME began searching for a cost-effective, technological solution to keep better track of its fleet of vehicles in 2015 and explored all options before settling on a contract with Nortac Defence, which provides the CAF with tactical tracking technology for deployed units and Trakopolis provides them with the commercial application technology.

TEME is the only unit in Canada’s military to have Trakopolis.