Metropolitan Transport Information System
by Digital Geographic Research Corporation
30+ years innovating

METRIS GPS sampling density: seconds, not minutes; invaluable for detailed analysis and forensics. I-710/I-405 interchange.
Illustration shows multiple tracks superimposed, and selected points on one track taking the cloverleaf.

Vehicle Tracking

METRIS is more than a tracking service. It's a partnership to streamline freight. An Intelligent Transportation System on a small scale. We compile and analyze data from multiple trucks and fleets in real time, and feed crucial information back to you. In our other lives, we're transportation consultants. We help ports and transportation planning agencies to formulate policies and projects that smooth the flow of freight.

Currently our interest is in drayage truck operations in metropolitan ports.

METRIS samples vehicle location every few seconds, at least 10 times denser than other commercial tracking systems, and at a better price. We offer real-time fleet maps, daily logs and monthly analyses. Because of our exceptionally detailed data, we are unique in offering accurate measurements of turn time at marine terminals [for example ...]. Several prominent port drayage carriers in Los Angeles are partners in METRIS.

METRIS is about having the pieces of the freight system work together better—like rowers pulling together for common good.


There are numerous benefits of GPS tracking, and being tracked is now the norm in the American trucking industry. Let's consider the benefits of METRIS tracking in three categories: those you see every day, some that appear every so often as in monthly reports, and the third category that helps when you really need help.

1. Everyday

Massive ROI usually comes from strategic information. With GPS there are very large everyday operational benefits too.


What sets METRIS apart is destination reports, absolutely accurate every time. Both your company and drivers stand to benefit from detention revenue for extended delays. In congested ports like LA-Long Beach, you could average $400/month per truck in detention potential. If customers are golden and you never claim detention, good for you, but it dampens this considerable revenue source and ROI.


Beyond detention claims, our turn time reports are a valuable source of information for setting rates, and supporting those rates in conversations with customers. Terminal performance varies, e.g. a terminal puts in new management systems, makes promises, things look good, then a few months later when the pressure builds, they collapse, slipping from the top five to the bottom five. Another terminal invests massively in automation, things start out wonderful, but after a couple of years, they're just like any other. You want to be on top of these changes.


Cutting down on “What's your 20?” radio communication. Benefits: much less driver distraction (better safety record), more dispatcher productivity. In the past the update cycle was relatively long, as cellular traffic rates were an issue. Now we can readily update positions much more frequently using smartphones. You also get detailed turn-by-turn logs on major roads, and summaries of stops.

2. Strategic: information from monthly reports

Monthly reports are boring for the most part. A lot of numbers that we had a feel for anyway. But it's the little changes from month to month, the trends, that are meaningful.

“What's the best time of day to go to the ports?”  “We need electric trucks. What range do we need?”  “They require ELDs beyond 100 miles. How often do we drive more than 100 miles? Oops, they just changed that to 150 miles. Recalculate.”  “Is it true that employee drivers are slower than owner-operators?”  “James tends to take longer on deliveries than Miguel. Could we swap their assignments so that we serve this A-list customer better.”

You can do some of this by intuition and experience, but if you're looking at a fleet of more than 10 trucks, you want confidence in your decisions, that only numerical reports provide.

3. Never know when you need it

In the early days of GPS, one of the big draws was theft detection. It's become clear since then that smart thieves take minutes to disable a tracker. GPS may help with your insurance premium, though.

But GPS data are critical in investigating accidents. In a rollover on a cloverleaf, we showed that the driver never exceeded 25 mph, so fault must lie elsewhere, maybe with load distribution. In a double-fatality accident that led to a million dollar lawsuit, the data showed a pattern of very responsible driving. GPS and dash cams traced the timeline of events precisely, putting the company in the driver's seat in court.

Be Prepared

GPS devices can go dark for different reasons: a trailer light shorts and power circuit #17 goes down. Cellular signals degrade, and the instrument needs a reset. As with IT or vehicle maintenance, be prepared to assign staff to the important tasks of keeping the instruments in working order. If you're using smartphones or tablets, there are other things to watch.

To make the most of GPS benefits, be prepared to evolve from old ways of dispatching and other areas of company operations. Dream big, and talk to us about what you'd like.

© Digital Geographic Research Corporation