Recommendation to Implement GPS Technology in Chicago Taxicabs

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report recommending that the City consider implementing an integrated, fleet-wide Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system that tracks the movement of on-duty taxicabs. The program review and report was prompted by a recent hit-and-run incident allegedly involving a taxicab that resulted in the death of a City resident. Though GPS has been required in all cabs since 2007, there is no requirement that the GPS be connected to a single fleet-wide system, or that GPS data be collected, tracked, or analyzed. Comparing similar programs in New York City and Boston, the report notes that such a mandate would provide a number of potential benefits in the areas of public safety, customer service, and transportation policy, while resulting in little additional cost to taxicab operators and the City. The report specifically notes the following as likely benefits from a City-wide taxicab GPS system:

Public Safety

  • Police would be better able to identify taxicabs involved in hit-and-run incidents;
  • Taxicab drivers would be able to easily alert dispatchers when they are in distress;
  • Police would be better able to canvass taxicab drivers working in areas where a crime has occurred.

Customer Service

  • Customers would be able to locate lost property more easily;
  • Customers would be more informed about where to hail a cab.

Transportation Policy

  • The City would obtain additional information by which to study traffic congestion patterns.

“The OIG is pleased that its analysis has revealed a readily available, low cost option that would improve public safety and customer service in an essential City program,” said Inspector General Joseph Ferguson. The report also includes comment from the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, the Chicago Police Department, and the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications.