Crane inspectors in New York City (NYC), US, will come under further scrutiny with the plan to use mobile phone global-positioning system (GPS) technology to track their whereabouts.

NYC Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri, at the Government Department of Buildings (DOB), said by the end of September 2009 the routes of all 379 construction inspectors will be monitored electronically through their phones. The programme is designed to ensure the integrity of inspections, while helping supervisors dispatch resources more efficiently and provide employees with greater security.

"This new GPS-tracking system is a simple, innovative way to ensure inspectors reach their assigned locations and are held accountable for their important work," said LiMandri. "With this technology, our inspectors can respond to a building-related emergency faster than ever before, and we can provide them with a greater measure of safety when they are working in the field."

During the course of their work, inspectors regularly respond to emergency incidents, day and night, and coordinate with firefighters, police officers and other investigators to conduct investigations and assess the stability of a structure or a piece of equipment. Using a web-based system, inspection unit heads will be able to monitor the real-time movements of their inspectors from a computer at their work station.

"The GPS-based program will help supervisors identify the closest inspectors to assign to emergency incidents and pinpoint the location of an inspector if he or she loses contact with a supervisor," added the department.

In the 2009 fiscal year US DOB inspectors performed more than 445,000 inspections, a 1% increase compared to the previous fiscal year.

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