GPS Tracking, or a GPS Tracker, is a device, usually used by a moving vehicle, a stationary object at risk of theft, or even a person. A GPS Tracker uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine and monitor its location and either store or transmit the location data. The data transmitted can be sent to a central database or network and uses the cellular networks (GPRS or SMS), and a radio or satellite modem within the device to do so.
GPS Tracking Software will use the location signal transposed on a live map backdrop in real time, either on the device, central computer, or both. This allows the device user to view their location and plan their route, in real time and with hazard notifications, such as weather or traffic and also allows fleet managers in the back office to see the locations of their entire fleet on one screen.
The Global Positioning System
GPS – The Global Positioning System also known as Navstar GPS or Navstar is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS). This satellite system provides geographic location and time information to a GPS receiver or GPS tracker. For an effective result a tracker receives data from four or more GPS satellites to pinpoint the tracking location.
It operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception. Both can help positioning information however, and are used to transmit GPS tracking data back to a base PC or to integrate with device functionality like mapping, route planning, traffic reports and so on.
Types of GPS Tracker
There are two main types of GPS Tracker – Active and Passive.
An Active GPS Tracker will update location every few seconds giving real time information and telematics using wireless and GPS signals. A Passive GPS Tracker does not transmit live data and will record the data it collects to be downloaded later.
Mainstream use of GPS Tracking generally covers the following areas:
- Car and personal vehicles
- Trucks and commercial vehicles
- Recreation and outdoor
- Aviation, water and ocean navigation
- Military, space and government utilization
For this article we are concerned mostly with the use of GPS for business and fleet management but the benefits of their uses and features are widely applicable.
Benefits of GPS Tracking
GPS Tracking in every application has two key benefits, location tracking and route finding. Location tracking aids safety and security. Route finding increases efficiency, saving time and often money when moving from one location to another.
For a business GPS Tracking can:
- Increase driver and load security
- Quickly pinpoint location to send help or breakdown assistance
- Monitor and manage driver activity
- Efficiently plan routes and respond to traffic or weather conditions
- Reduce delays, fuel costs and downtime
- Improve planned maintenance schedules
- Respond quickly to schedule changes and customer demand
- Give real time analytics and reporting for overall management
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GPS Trackers for security
Good fleet security reassures both employees and customers that their loads are safe in transit. It reduces the risk and costs associated with thefts, accidents and delays.
Driver security is critical in many industries and important in all. GPS Tracking can quickly locate a vehicle and driver which may have been subject to a crime or accident and just the presence of GPS tracking can often deter criminals.
Emergency or breakdown assistance can be sent immediately and accurately to a vehicle location. If an unmanned vehicle is stolen, it and its load can be located and recovered fast to minimise customer inconvenience and losses.
Effective route planning can avoid uncertain driving or navigating unsuitable or unsafe roads. Truck GPS for example, is specifically programmed to advise of roads suitable for larger or heavier vehicles, warning of low bridges and other such hazards.
GPS Tracking Costs
GPS Tracking is available in standalone devices or software packages which can be installed on user devices such as smartphones or laptops, whichever most suits your needs. Both options use the GPS system to track location, plan route and either actively or passively transmit the data recorded to a central network or base unit. GPS subscriptions start from as little as $40 per month for a single, simple device up to $2000 plus per month for a complex network of devices and software.
GPS cost options for buyers:
Scenario 1 – A single vehicle would use GPS Tracking Software or a single GPS Tracking unit. A subscription to the GPS or wireless network would be required.
Scenario 2 – Software is purchased for existing device/s and for a central network or base unit to manage and analyse the data records. Network costs or subscriptions would be in addition.
Scenario 3 – Standalone devices for each fleet vehicle + central software + network subscription.
Popular GPS brands
Garmin, Rand McNally and PC Miler are some of the biggest GPS brands supplying North America. Their products and suitability vary as does the pricing. A buyer should look to identify the setup and functionality they need then conduct a full price comparison for the option that suits them best across the leading products and brands in the marketplace. Expert Market can help by comparing the top companies and putting you in touch with the best ones for your business needs, simply fill in the form at the top of the page to start get started.
Garmin are GPS specialists for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor and sport applications.
Their Dezl brand is their major product currently for the trucking industry and offers built in dash cams, easy to see high resolution touch screens and of course excellent navigation, road condition, time management and reporting. Truck units come with a Dash Cam and Incident Detection Sensor, Active Lane Guidance and photoReal or Birds Eye junction views. Reporting features include fuel, distance, service needs, and working hours and is fully supported by the Garmin Fleet Management Interface.
The dash cam continually records the drive and an Incident Detection Sensor automatically records footage if a collision or harsh braking is detected. It’s also easily removed from the truck if the driver needs to take still pictures of an incident outside of the vehicle. Dezl software can adapt to the dimensions of a vehicle and the needs of its size or driver.
Garmin include lifetime current maps of North America with the newest data available at no extra charge. The Garmin Dezl starts from around $360.00 CAD for a single device.
Rand McNally are traditionally a map publisher, developing with technology into the GPS marketplace. They have a strong focus on the commercial transportation market and developed their IntelliRoute TND line. Rand McNally have two key products for the commercial transport marketplace, their IntelliRoute TND GPS devices and their TND Tablets.
The TND Tablet is a fully functioning android tablet with advanced trucking GPS, a dash cam and pre-loaded dedicated trucking software. It includes lifetime mapping and traffic, routing with advanced lane and split screen junction views, truck POI’s, and ten different weather map overlays for route conditions. Management apps cover fuel, accounting, load board and document imaging with live fuel price reporting on route.
The TND Tablet is currently priced at around $699.99 CAD, however custom quotes for entire fleet management solutions are given to each company depending on the level of software/support required.
PC Miler is an ALK Technologies brand. ALK Technologies is a dedicated transportation technology with a 30 year background.
Their latest software release is PC Miler 30 which is available for android and smartphone devices. It’s in depth software which takes care of fuel, toll, time, service, and route management.
PC Miler’s main strength in the business marketplace is their offering of dedicated applications by sector. If you have a business dealing with hazardous materials, rail and energy transporting and so on, they offer dedication GPS Tracking Management for you. PC Miler Software starts at around $1895.00 CAD.
Newer GPS brands
Newer entrants to the North American GPS marketplace include brands like VehiclePath and X5 GPS which use GSM/Mobile networks for more accurate positioning in urban areas and respectively, web based management which means devices can be managed by logging into any PC or device, anywhere.
Options with VehiclePath start from $99 for an initial software subscription and device. Subscriptions with X5 GPS start from approximately $40 per month. It is always best to shop around and compare options to decide whether an established or up-and-coming company is best for your fleet.