Town to buy new vehicle tracking system

Islip Town Hall is located at 655 Main

Islip Town Hall is located at 655 Main St. in Islip. (Credit: Erin Geismar)

Islip officials are spending $1.4 million for a new GPS-tracking and communications system for town vehicles -- six years after the town bought a similar system for about $1 million.

The town board Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase from Integrated Wireless Techologies Llc, of Bay Shore and Quogue, for a two-way radio system and maintenance agreement, saying the current system fails to provide key communication functions.

About half of the funding -- $693,499 -- comes from the town's capital budget, and the remaining $749,000 will be financed through Integrated Wireless at a 3.5 percent interest rate over the next five years. Officials with the company, the sole bidder, could not be reached for comment.

The system is expected to be installed in the next few weeks and be used to monitor 460 vehicles.

Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said the current analog equipment would be incompatible with an FCC mandate for digital operations. Also, she said, town Public Safety Enforcement Commissioner John J. Carney expressed dissatisfaction with the equipment during last month's blizzard.

Pressed about acquiring a new system in light of the town's fiscal issues -- including the board's decision to raise taxes 28 percent last year -- Bergin Weichbrodt said, "Look, when the FCC tells me I'm required, I take my marching orders."

Carney said about half of the town's global positioning satellite monitors are broken, but he said that did not affect the town's blizzard response. The storm dropped nearly 3 feet of snow and left some residents with unplowed streets days after the storm.

Town officials said the current system, which uses Sprint's TeleNav software, does not provide phone service, texting, emailing or routing information.

"They were simply used as tracking devices, and they never effectively gave our field employees or our hired subcontractors the ability to communicate with our operations center and share information during major events," said Councilman Anthony S. Senft Jr.

Former Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan said the system he purchased in 2007 allowed officials to "effectively manage the fleet . . . The reality is you need to know where your people are, and our system did that. To spend $1.4 million when you have no money -- that's a lot of money."

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