Fleet Preparation for Hurricanes

Fleet Preparation for Hurricanes

Fleet preparation for hurricanes and other natural disasters is a necessary step in general fleet management. Your GPS system is an invaluable tool in this preparation. From vehicle and equipment locations to current fuel levels, your GPS system provides the tools necessary to prep for the hurricane as well as the tools necessary to manage in the aftermath.

Vehicle driving in storm

Fuel Availability

The first step in Fleet preparation for hurricanes hurricane is to ensure the availability of fuel. In the aftermath of a hurricane or large tropical storm, rarely do fueling stations have the power necessary to pump fuel from storage tanks. Prior to the hurricane, make sure all vehicle and storage fuel tanks are full. If your organization maintains a local fuel supply, top off your vehicles at local gas stations to preserve locally stored fuel for after the hurricane. After a hurricane, the issue isn’t a lack of available fuel, it’s the inability to pump the fuel due to lack of electrical power. Most GPS systems report fuel levels of vehicles. This feature simplifies determining the vehicles that need fueling as well as the ability to monitor fuel levels in remote vehicles.

Missed Business Opportunities

If your business is one that will be in high demand after a hurricane, you should plan to capitalize on the situation as quickly as possible. To be ready you need three things in place. Inventory, people and systems. Determine what items are going to be in high demand and stage them at a safe location. Competitors who do not do this will not be able to get inventory for days or weeks and your business can thrive. People must be ready to return to work. Knowing who will be available will determine how much post hurricane work you can get done. Last is business systems must be in the cloud so they can be accessed from home or from any computer based on where Internet and power is available. Fleetistics uses Microsoft 365 from IGTech365 so employees can work from anywhere, anytime, with an Internet connection. Files are backup to the cloud using Azure and servers are virtual or co-located to avoid flood damage.

fuel level in tank

Fleet Preparation for Hurricanes -Staging Location

The next step in fleet preparation for hurricanes is to stage your fleet location. Make sure vehicles are protected from wind and water as much as possible. The primary danger to vehicles from the wind is falling trees or power lines. Hurricane force winds may not be high enough to affect the vehicle directly, but even a category one hurricane has winds high enough to take down power lines and trees. Power lines can take a vehicle out of service by blocking the vehicle’s path or by falling on the vehicle. After a hurricane, downed power lines are a danger because many times they are live. Falling trees are directly responsible for more damage to vehicles than wind. Stage your fleet in a location that mitigates the effects of downed power lines and falling trees as much as possible. Your GPS system provides the tools necessary to monitor your vehicles whether the staging area is at your location or a more secure remote location.

vehicle locations fleet management preparation for hurricanes

Organizationally, designate a disaster manager. This position should be the single point of contact for all fleet preparation for hurricanes and communications. The disaster manager and their team should have a reliable communication system that isn’t dependent on power from the electrical grid. In the case of cell phones, backup power sources for charging should be available. In many situations the fleet vehicles can be a source of power to recharge communication devices. Cell phones and tablets provide access to your GPS system. Since GPS systems are hosted, they will be available to internet connected devices. Many GPS systems offer a mobile app. Most of the mobile apps do not provide access to all features of the system. Using­­ a tablet provides a more convenient way to access the full GPS system by using a browser.

After The Hurricane

In the aftermath of a hurricane, the security of vehicles and equipment is paramount. Theft is a major concern after the hurricane passes. A GPS system provides the ability to create zones or geofences. This provides the ability to designate and monitor approved locations for vehicles and equipment. GPS systems can provide notification when vehicles or other device equipped assets are removed from designated areas.

After the storm

Many organizations use multiple GPS systems. Vehicles are managed by systems that specialize in reporting vehicle specific data. Other systems specialize in tracking trailers and other equipment. Fleetistics provides a unique tool for monitoring multiple systems in a single window. During and after a disaster, switching between multiple systems is an inconvenience and it uses more power through maintaining multiple connections to servers. Fleetistics offers a system that displays vehicles, equipment, and other assets in a single window. This simplifies monitoring all assets as well as conserves power.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, local, state, and federal government resources need time to deploy. After the hurricane, most government agencies, state organizations and individuals should prepare to be totally self-sufficient for at least 3 days. Crowd sourcing apps like the PubSafe app from Aftermath Data can be a great help both with internal and external disaster related communications.

Disaster planning can mitigate many of the challenges during and after the hurricane. Stockpile as much fuel and consumables as possible. Designate a disaster manager. Plan for the location of vehicles and other assets. Use the tools provided by your GPS system to monitor asset location as well as fuel levels and other parameters reported by the system.

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10 Simple IT Security Steps for Small Business

IT Security is Critical

Malware attacks due to lack of IT security have made big news lately. Cybercriminals are a huge concern for all businesses. Unfortunately, small businesses that lack an IT department have a higher risk of exposure to their attacks. Though not as attractive a target as a Fortune 500 company, they may be considered by hackers as a much easier mark. Ultimately, a single attack could wipe out many small businesses.

After taking steps to upgrade our own security procedures, Eron Iler, Fleetistics fearless leader, documented what he learned through the process.  In this video, he shares 10 steps that any company can take to improve their IT security and lower their risk of falling victim to cyber-attack. To learn about cyber crimes visit IGTech365.

Transcript of 10 IT Security Steps
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Hi everybody! Eron here with Fleetistics, and today we’re going to talk about something a little bit different than fleet tracking technology. What we’re going to talk about is technology
that has come to the forefront in the news lately, and it’s really about securing your business. We’re not only interested in your fleet, but we want to see your overall business flourish and in the future we hope to bring you more business related products and services that will just help you grow your business and make it a more profitable business.

So the topic today is actually IT security. There are some things that we have done internally to improve our security
and these are the same types of things that most small to medium businesses should be doing as well.

Now if you’re in a bigger organization you probably have IT staff that is available to take care of these things for you. You
may hear some things that you’re not doing and you may have to ask your IT group as to why you’re not doing certain things, because these are pretty basic you know type security measures that should be implemented.

So the very first one is two-factor authentication, and if there’s anything that’s going to help you avoid getting hacked – and it’s the easiest thing to do – two-factor authentication is it. You can receive an email, an SMS, or you can use the authenticator app to get a code which then allows you to enter that code to
then access sensitive areas of your organization or to sign in to perhaps you know a company resource like SharePoint or something like that. It is a very very simple way of doing
things.

And with all security there’s a trade-off. There’s convenience
versus security, and every time that you add more security you’re going to have a little more inconvenience, so you’ve got to realize that in our world today we are just dealing with
things differently. And now when it comes to malware, spyware you know the encryption technology, things of that nature, those things have very, very real consequences. And you can see from the gas, the gas company who is a major organization which would probably or should have had some of the best IT available, they still got caught. So what are you going to do in your small business? And it is just as easy as clicking on something that looks familiar, not paying attention to the destination URL and then you install something that encrypts your hard drive, right? Or, you know, even worse yet it gets into your network and encrypts your network so something like two-factor authentication is a very easy way to put up an initial barrier to that process.

All right number two is only allow computers that are connected to your network through the company to actually
connect up to your resources. And it is convenient for us to allow people to work from home, and use whatever computer computer they may have already in place. It is also inconvenient for employees to have to use a company computer because they probably already have a workstation set up, however, what you cannot do is rely on that computer and that employee to manage their security the same way that you want to manage your business security. Therefore, if you enable the functionality that only a company computer that is registered through your IT department on your network can actually connect to your company resources, you will avoid the holes that are created by employees who may or may not keep up with IT security. They certainly are not going to have the level of security that you would want to have to protect not only your data in your operation, but your customer information as well. And if you happen to be storing you know credit card information or sensitive data then by law you have requirements like this to protect that information. You know if an organization was to steal all your contact information… you know maybe it’s something they could find online, but if they took that list and turned around and sold it to a competitor (and I don’t know about you, but every day I get prompted via email “hey would you like to buy a list from this organization or this industry?” They can take that information and make it available to your competitors and then start calling on your customers. Right? So it may seem mundane for certain types of information but they can do a lot of things with data
that you and I don’t even think about.

So another step is to control what IP addresses can connect to your network. And even if someone’s working from home you can simply type in “what is my IP” you can get their IP address and you can share that with your IT department. The IT department can then configure the firewall to only allow certain IPs to connect. The firewalls have a lot of advanced functionality and you could actually do additional things like only allowing connections during certain times of the day.

So we know that a lot of hacking takes place coming out of
Russia and China and their hours of operation are typically not going to be our normal business hours. By blocking you know network connectivity outside of working hours, you’re going to
remove a huge chunk of opportunity for people in these other countries to hack into your network. Hackers don’t want to go where it’s hard to do things, they want to go where it’s easy. They may probe a lot around different companies and networks looking for these little gaps and then when they
find then they exploit it. If they can’t even touch yours because you’re, you have IP restrictions either by individual IP and or IP and by day and time, then you’ve created a hard surface or a
hard security scenario that they aren’t going to want to waste
time trying to figure out. If they can’t hack it then they can just move on to your neighbor or your competitor who hasn’t
done anything, and they will easily be able to continue on with
hacking.

The next thing is the implementation of Intune. Intune is a Microsoft product and it allows you to protect your data
on mobile devices, laptops, even PCs, but you know a lot of people connect phones, and I do the same thing, I connect my mobile phone to my work. I connect up SharePoint, OneDrive, email, OneNote… All of those things are on my phone, and what happens if my phone gets stolen, right? I’ve now created a pipe from my phone straight into my business. And because authentication has already taken place, if somehow they can get into my phone then they’re going to have that direct
access well. With Intune, it’s an app that installs on these devices, and if you know the the phone gets stolen, or a laptop
gets stolen like we had. In our case we actually had an installer who had a laptop stolen out of the vehicle, and at that time we had remote monitoring software on the laptop and we
were actually able to log into the laptop and we could see the user was, you see their emails and we could see that they were in Africa, it was West Africa somewhere… in the, I think it’s called the Cape Horn area, and we could see what they
were actually typing and things like that, so we sent a little message and consequently we never heard from them
again after that. But Intune allows you to go in and
compartmentalize your company information and lock it down
and uh you know if something gets stolen you can reach out to that device and you can lock that information and delete it off of the device completely. And it’s only affecting business related information and there’s no spyware involved, so your employees don’t have to worry about that. But, you know if something happens you can grab that data and you can delete it off that device and know that your information is protected.

If you need assistance or are interested in Microsoft 365 or Intune, I would recommend checking out IGTech365.com, which we’ll post in the show notes. IGTech365 is an IT company. They handle our IT and they can handle your IT as well. Even if you have the Microsoft Office 365 package today or Business Suite today, they can become your partner of record and it doesn’t change your price or anything else. And once they become your partner of record, then they will actually also provide support that goes along with that. So if you have a question or a problem then you don’t have to call Microsoft. You call IGTech365. They’ll handle it and get on the phone with Microsoft or help you through that. It’s a full service it company, so you can check with them and see what other services they offer as well, from Microsoft Teams as a voice over IP system, which we also use internally – which is great, to the full office 365 Suite.

The next thing is to scan network connections for sensitive
information patterns such as credit cards and social security numbers. That’s a little bit more complicated and a little bit more advanced. Most small businesses aren’t going to do
that, especially if you don’t maintain that type of information, but there are programs that you can put on computers that will scan traffic in and out, and look for patterns of information i.e a social security card number or a credit card number. And when it recognizes that 16 digit number then it flags it and sends that information to Management, so they can look at it and make a determination as to whether or not that’s something that should or should not be happening.

Monitoring you know computer activity is another one. Whether you’re looking at detailed information or just looking at activity. If you see a computer as active during off hours, then maybe somebody is taking control of that computer when you know that employee is not going to be working. So if you saw activity at three o’clock in the morning, and you know it’s a it’s an administrative position that would never have a need to work at that time frame, then you can pick up on that and go in and take a look and see what’s going on.

Something as simple as locking your screen, and you may not know this but if you hold down the windows key and hit the L key at the same time, it’ll actually lock your computer, which is a very easy habit to get into when you’re walking away from your computer. Even in your house, you know you have people coming and going in your house, maybe a cleaning service something of that nature, and if you walk away from your computer and all of a sudden you know your computer is opened up and you leave the house to go walk the dog, there’s nothing preventing someone from getting on your computer, taking a picture of your computer, things of that nature. So getting in the habit of locking that screen and putting an auto lock on that screen after let’s say five, ten, thirty minutes of no activity is a great way to help lock down the computers and avoid you know that type of intrusion that you might not think happens, but it’s totally possible.

The next thing that we did is we updated our password policy. And changing your password every 30 days is just not practical. Everybody hates it it’s, that is a sacrifice that I don’t want to make, but what we can do is make the passwords more complex, and we can make them longer. We can require capitals and lowercase, and special characters and some number combinations, things of that nature that are going to make the odds of it getting hacked pretty, pretty low. And once you do that, then you know maybe change your password once a year type thing is what you want to do. IT people are going to have a different you know opinion on that, but if you do that in conjunction with two factor authentication, then you’re going to have a pretty secure login process.

And the last thing is taking advantage of the you know the employee background checks these days who is actually getting into your systems. Who are you hiring are they the right
people? So there’s a personal security protection that you need to be looking at. There are so many online services today that can run background checks for you to make sure that the people that you are, that you’re hiring are the right folks, and the people that you can trust to handle certain types of sensitive information. And what you don’t want to do is have information that walks out your organization. A platform like SharePoint, which is part of the Microsoft 365 platform, can also monitor for downloads of files you know large quantities, if files are being deleted it can monitor that. It does keep a recycle bin for you and a version history for you which is great, and again if you want some help with that and you want to learn more, IGTech365 is the company to call.

You know so there’s protections in all these different areas that you need to be looking at and they’re just so, so simple that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go about making some of these changes. But these were just 10 things that I came up with as a small business that would make sense for your business whether you have two people, right? If it’s not family still you know some of this stuff you want to do regardless, even on your personal computer. But if you have two people and they’re not all family then that’s when you should start this practice. And if you have it implemented when you hire people then it’s much easier than to implement after you’ve got you know people that are that are hired and used to doing things the old way, right? Because change is always difficult.

So that’s what I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed, I hope you got some tips. If you enjoyed the content, hit the like and subscribe button down below, and we will see you on the next video. Good luck growing your business and stay profitable!

IT Security Top Ten List

  1. Implement 2-Factor Authentication.
  2. Only allow resource access to computers that are connected to your network.
  3. Control what IP addresses can connect to your network.
  4. Only allow connections during certain times of the day.
  5. Implement Microsoft Intune or a Mobile Device Management (MDM) service
  6. Scan network connections for sensitive information patterns.
  7. Monitor computer activity.
  8. Lock screens when not at your computers. (Windows + L key)
  9. Update your password policy to be 8+ characters, numbers and symbols.
  10. Require employee background checks.
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Instant Pot Meals on 18 Wheels

Instant Pot Cooking on the Road

Instant Pot cooking would not seem to be an appropriate post for a fleet management blog, but all is not what it seems to be. Before we are done we will touch on driver safety, morale, health, giving back to the community, and return on investment.

I first heard about Randy from a co-worker that belongs to a Facebook group that he is active in. His story peaked my interest so I contacted him to learn more. He quickly agreed to do an interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Introducing Randy

Randy drives a 2020 Peterbilt for Western Distributing in Colorado. He used to prepare his meals using a lunch box oven as many truckers do. That, and fast food are what truckers are often stuck with due to the demands of their work. He could not make pasta or rice, and the lunch box oven is not the greatest way to prepare vegetables. He was very limited in what he could prepare in it and found himself bored with the limited menu. Meals took a long time to prepare and were not very appetizing.

Randy's Kitchen
Randy Garza

Typical Lunchbox Ovens Used by Truckers

typical lunch box oven

All of that changed when his sister gave him an early Christmas gift in Colorado around November 25th of last year, his first Instant Pot. He picked up an inverter in Las Vegas, installed the inverter in Guymon, OK, and finally used his Instant Pot around December 2nd or 3rd. The first meal he cooked was spaghetti, something that just can’t be done in a lunch box oven.

Now he uses it daily and has added more Instant Pot products to his in cab home. He can cook just about anything with his collection that includes the dual lid for air frying, another 3 quart Instant Pot, an Instant Vortex Plus and an Ace Nova blender.

Instant Pot Meals on 18 Wheels
Instant Pot Meals on 18 Wheels
Instant Pot Meals on 18 Wheels

Real Meals on 18 Wheels

Randy told me he eats healthier and life is easier with the Instant Pot appliances. He can cook almost anything on the road. His favorite is making pancakes on saute. He stocks up on produce every few days and meat weekly. The hardest part he says is parking his tractor-trailer at the grocery store.

Instant Pot products have saved him time and money while expanding his diet to include pretty much anything at all. He can pressure cook, air fry, bake, steam, roast, saute, and even make soup. With so many homeless people on the road, he gets great satisfaction doing little things like baking a cake or providing a meal for a homeless person in need.

Instant Pot Meals on 18 Wheels
Instant Pot Meals on 18 Wheels
Instant Pot Meals on 18 Wheels

Healthier Drivers are Safer Drivers

What impresses me most is Randy’s desire to change the way people eat. He believes that when drivers eat healthier and get a wider variety of fresh foods, they will be stronger, happier and more alert, making the road a healthier and more comfortable workplace for truckers and a safer place for all of us.
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Electric Vehicle Safety for Novices

Electric Vehicle Safety vs Conventional Fuel Vehicles in Collisions

Electric vehicle safety concerns have not had near the publicity that the vehicles and initiatives have received. Organizations like NFPA and NAHRS provide proactive training for first responders and early responders on how to identify hybrids and EVs, and prepare them to deal with the potential dangers inherent in rescue operations. Some of us, including the writer of this post, never gave EV safety a second thought until now. With the numbers of Hybrids and EVs on the road increasing as they are, it seems prudent to share this information on a broader scale.

The obvious reason a different approach must be taken in dealing with emergencies involving EVs is that they contain high voltage systems. If you ever took a shock from your conventional vehicle battery you surely experienced some discomfort. That was 12 volts DC at 2 to 10 amps. According to allaboutcircuits.com, common nominal pack voltages in current vehicles range from 100V-200V for hybrid/plug-in hybrid vehicles and 400V to 800V and higher for electric-only vehicles. That’s a lot more juice!

Dos and Don’ts

Whether attending to someone with a medical emergency in the vehicle, trying to free someone trapped in the vehicle, or putting out a fire in a burning vehicle, the rescue approach is different when there are high voltage components to consider. Before taking action you must identify if a vehicle is a hybrid, full electric vehicle, or an internal combustion engine. If it is an EV, Hybrid, or even CNG, alternative vehicle safety protocols must be followed. The first thing you need to determine is if the vehicle is running. Electric vehicles run silent so it is easy to overlook a vehicle still running that could move and cause injury. Next, the battery should be disconnected according to the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines.

Another important piece of information to know is the battery location. If a battery has been exposed to heat, that creates an additional hazard. Cooling the battery with water is a good idea, but never cut, crush, or open a high voltage battery, cable, or peripheral component. Popping noises from the battery location are a good indicator that it is hot, as well as smoke or steam.

If you have access to running water, a hot battery should be cooled by running water over the battery case or compartment. Water has been determined to be the best way to cool or extinguish a lithium-ion battery. If the battery case has already been opened by impact or penetration, applying water directly to the battery is even more effective. Other suffocating or extinguishing agents like your handy fire extinguisher will not be effective. Keep in mind that emergency responders are trained to monitor the battery for reoccurrence of heat for no less than 45 minutes before releasing a vehicle to secondary responders, so if you end up being the one manning the hose, and conditions are safe enough, continue the cooling efforts until the pros arrive. Download the free Emergency Field Guide for alternative fuel vehicles from NFPA.org or contact your local fire department for training and information if you operate electric vehicles.

More Videos on Electric Vehicle Safety and Fire Hazards

Electric Vehicle Battery Location

EV battery locations vary by vehicle make and model. In most hybrids it is behind or under the rear seat, or in the trunk. In fully electric vehicles it may be under the floorboard or in the transmission hump. If you see damage to the vehicle or active fire in or near those locations, best to wait for the pros who have been trained for these situations and have the thermal imaging and protective gear to handle them.

Key Take-aways for EV Safety

We cannot stress enough that alternative fuel vehicles vary widely in the technologies used. Each technology presents a unique hazard profile. Buildup of fumes that are harmful or flammable, potential for delayed fire, and extremely high voltages are the primary dangers. If you are not sure what to do, call 911 for help, and wait.

Most important, if you are first on the scene of a collision or other vehicle emergency, before you jump in to assist, stop and assess the situation for electric vehicle safety. Treating an EV in the same manner you would a conventional gasoline or diesel fueled vehicle can do more harm than good and ultimately result in serious injury.

Move Over Laws

Move Over Laws in all 50 States

According to the USDOT blog, all 50 states have now enacted move over laws. There are some significant differences between states, but the basic premise requires changing lanes or slowing down when approaching vehicles stopped on the roadside.

ResponderSafety.com has reported that two emergency responders per day, on average, are struck by passing vehicles. Move over laws were enacted to provide a cushion of safety for law enforcement officers, workers, and others that may be stopped on a busy road or highway. The earliest versions of these laws were often vague and unenforceable. More recent efforts between cooperating agencies have provided model language that is clearer and is being adopted more broadly.

Roadside Accident w-Emergency Responders

Primary Differences

The move over laws across the 50 states have much more in common than not. The primary differences are the definitions each state has for an emergency scene. In many states they apply only to emergency vehicles. In other states they apply to emergency vehicles and towing vehicles. Alaska includes animal control vehicles in their definition and South Carolina has the broadest definition. Their text includes a location designated by the potential need to provide emergency medical care and is identified by emergency vehicles with flashing lights, rescue equipment, or emergency personnel on the scene.

Based on the South Carolina definition, one can infer that if a common citizen stops to assist another vehicle pulled off the road, there could be potential need for emergency medical care making even that a qualifying emergency scene that the law would apply to.

What Move Over Laws Have in Common

All of the move over laws place responsibility on the driver of a motor vehicle to take specific action when approaching an emergency scene. The driver must change lanes if the adjacent lane is available and the maneuver can be performed safely. Drivers must also slow down and control their vehicle to avoid collision. The image below from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website tells Florida drivers exactly what they need to know.

I recall, many years ago, being at the side of the road on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I was driving a friend’s pickup truck when the engine seized because the oil was too low. Stuck on a curve with 2 lanes of traffic moving fast in both directions, and a concrete barrier between, I was alone and unprepared. There was very little room at the roadside and no way to move the truck further off the road. I waited in the truck hoping someone would stop to help. It was unnerving that drivers did not slow down, and absolutely frightening when one drove by so close he clipped off the side view mirror and sent it tumbling down the hill.

Common sense and human decency dictate if someone, if anyone is in distress at the side of the road, whether that distress is a heart attack or a flat tire, give them and anyone who is assisting them plenty of room. Move over laws ensure a higher level of protection for public servants and a consequence for violators. Bottom line, they encourage us all to do what we know is the right thing.

Driver Training

Play this short video to remind your drivers and employees of the Move Over Law.