Geospatial tracking of IRT vehicles using Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) or other similar technology

Applying vehicle location technology on IRT vehicles allows for real-time tracking and monitoring. Systems like these use a combination of GPS (Global Positioning System) and cellular or radio communication technologies to locate and communicate with vehicles.

Key characteristics



WSDOT regions

Other names

  • Vehicle Tracking System
  • Fleet Management System
  • GPS Tracking System
  • Telematics System

Strategy description

AVL systems typically consist of a GPS receiver installed on the vehicle, a communication link between the vehicle and a central monitoring station, and software that processes and displays vehicle location and status information. This is useful for tracking IRT vehicles because it will help improve the efficiency of incident response and can serve to alert drivers of incident locations using common third-party navigation applications.

When to use this strategy

Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) can be implemented on incident response vehicles when real-time geospatial tracking and monitoring of vehicle location is required and to replace the traditional way of vehicle tracking with radios.


  • Improved IRT fleet management because AVL can provide real-time information about the location and status of IRT vehicles, enabling drivers to optimize routing and scheduling, reduce fuel consumption, and improve overall fleet efficiency.
  • Enhanced safety because AVL can enable dispatchers and first responders to locate and respond to emergency situations more quickly and accurately.  It also enhances safety to operators.  Dispatchers can track their vehicles in high-risk situations.
  • Increased productivity because it can help reduce downtime by providing real-time information about IRT vehicle location and status, enabling dispatchers to quickly re-route vehicles, activate detours and respond to unexpected events in addition to ensuring the correct responder is dispatched to an incident.

What you need in order to implement

Policy needs:

  • Policies and procedures are needed to manage and use of vehicle location technologies on IRT vehicles
  • A management plan is required to use the data and ensure that the data is used to improve performance

Coordination needs:

  • The implementation of AVL on IRT vehicles requires coordination among multiple stakeholders including the incident response team, the IT department, the transportation management center, and the AVL vendor.  

Equipment needs:

  • Implementation requires purchasing and installing AVL hardware and software.

Maintenance needs:

  • Technologies used in the AVL system require ongoing maintenance.

Learn more about this strategy

About key characteristics

Cost notes:

The cost for implementing AVL on IRT vehicles is medium because over the years, the costs for the AVL hardware and software have decreased over the years and there are more vendors to choose from.

Technology notes:

The technology needs are medium because implementing AVL on IRT vehicles effectively requires resources and expertise. Meanwhile, technology is widely available and established, therefore it should be relatively easy to find support.

Collaboration notes:

Collaboration is considered medium because while there is need to coordinate among the incident response team, the IT department, and the vendor, there isn’t too much collaboration needed across region.