GPS used to reunite cars with their owners
When an earthquake hits and huge buildings around you are breaking up and raining from the sky, it’s unlikely you would be wondering where you left your car and how you could retrieve it. But after you’ve safely escaped the danger zone, you might be wondering how you can be reunited with your car.
This is the situation facing hundreds of car owners in quake-ravaged city of Christchurch in New Zealand. When the 6.3 magnitude quake hit the central business district of Christchurch, massive buildings crumbled and people ran for their lives, leaving thousands of cars in parking buildings, on the street and in private lots. Now that their lives have returned to some type of normality, they are keen to retrieve their vehicle but it’s proving more difficult than anticipated.
Cordons, collapsed buildings make retrieval difficult
What became known as the “red zone” within the CBD of Christchurch was off limits to the public for several weeks as USAR teams searched for survivors and engineers assessed the danger of buildings left standing. Demolition and salvage crews worked slowly through the rubble to clear as much as they could, including vehicles, in most cases, unbeknown to the vehicle’s owner.
The red zone cordon protected by army and police made it impossible for private vehicle owners to retrieve their vehicles after the quake. Added to this huge piles of rubble and collapsed buildings meant that even if owners could access the area finding their vehicle would prove difficult.
Using GPS to retrieve lost vehicles
In one case, sales manager for a local plumbing store, Leighton Johnston, had no idea where his damaged vans had gone. “No-one seemed to know anything about where they were, so it was lucky that I could use the GPS. I would never have found them,” he said. “I would have thought that the people removing them would see the signs and my phone number on the side and ring me to say where they are.”
Even though the vans were damaged and had been carted to a vacant lot, the GPS units were still transmitting and he was able to locate their exact position. While the vans will be an insurance job, locating the vans meant he was able to recover valuable tools and start working again.
Tracking a missing vehicle after a disaster is not a well-known feature of installing GPS fleet tracking but this case highlights just how valuable can be when an asset needs to be located, whether due to theft, or some sort of natural disaster.
Faster recovery of assets can mean a quicker return to chargeable work, avoiding having to pay insurance excesses or increases in premiums.
Another advantage of GPS tracking assets is that in the event of an insurance claim, tracking history can be used as material evidence to support an insurance claim, making a difficult time easier particularly if paper records have been lost in the disaster zone.
GPS units prove their worth
Fleets that have put off installing GPS tracking due to the initial cost of setup often regret not doing it sooner when something goes wrong. Particularly do they rue the decision when they realize that these systems often generate a positive ROI within 120 days, paying back the cost of the initial setup through operational savings. Maybe it’s time your fleet looked into it.
And, if you are one of the unfortunate vehicle owners that doesn’t have GPS to track your vehicle, NZ Police have setup a website to assist with locating your lost car or truck.