A real-time vehicle tracking system provides instantaneous speed and location data, while non real-time options record the location data for later use. For any company that runs a fleet of vehicles, a tracking system takes out the hassle associated with managing them, as well as improves efficiency and saves the company money.
Mechanics of a Vehicle Tracking System
Vehicle tracking system uses Global positioning system (GPS) trackers, which are installed in vehicles, to allow monitoring and tracking vehicles for fleet managers and vehicle owners of all kinds.
GPS tracking uses a network of satellites to determine the location of a vehicle. By using the speed of light to calculate the distance, it uses a process called trilateration to determine its physical location based on its distance from three GPS satellites. If the GPS device doesn’t “see” any satellites then a location is estimated using last known location and sometimes interpolating from the strength of cellular signals.
In real-time GPS tracking, a communication network is needed. Information pertaining to the speed and location vehicles is usually sent via cellular network (3G/4G) instantaneously to fleet managers or vehicle owners.
All the data collected by the GPS trackers are sent to a software platform that collects the data, stores the data, presents the data and also manages the devices, users, vehicles and assets. The location of the vehicles can be view on a computer, tablet or smartphone. The system is also able to send real-time alerts whenever a driver exceeds the speed limit or deviates from a specific area if necessary.
Besides managing fleets, real-time tracking system can also be used to locate stolen vehicles by providing the exact locations to the police.
Location update intervals are an important factor when shopping for GPS trackers for your vehicles. GPS trackers on the market usually come with minimum and maximum update interval settings. The setting of the frequency of updates will depend upon whether real-time updates are needed. For real-time applications, lower update intervals (5s – 10s) are better for accuracy and the accuracy of the history trail when monitoring the historical locations of the vehicles. For non-critical updates, higher update intervals (30s – 60s) would suffice, especially if power and data transmission saving is important.
Features of GPS Vehicle Trackers
There are many features that GPS trackers can offer. As no single tracker is likely to offers all of the features that are technologically possible as the cost of such a tracker would be prohibitive. A buyer would have to choose one with features and price that meets his needs. Below are some common features that are important to most users:
- Speeding alerts
This feature sends alerts whenever a driver is traveling over the legal speed limit. The information collected can be used for training and inculcating good driving habits in the driver.
- Idling alert
Too much idling time means using up fuel unproductively and incurring unnecessary engine wear and tear if the engine is left running idle. By monitoring and taking actions against idling, companies can drastically decrease fuel costs, reduce extra vehicle maintenance and improve ecological footprint.
- Route history log
This is a straight forward feature that keeps a history of the routes taken by the fleet of vehicles. Fleet managers could then see the full route the vehicle took during a particular time, as well as where and for how long it stopped.
- Geofencing zones
Generally, there are two types of Geofencing zones, Named Locations and Geographical Zones. Named Locations are known places that the drivers need to visit on a regular basis. Named locations could be buildings, areas or customer locations. In the case of Geographical Zones, these can be set up to encompass any shape on a map and are intended to show the boundaries of a territory, city or demarcated areas.
There are two modes in which Geofencing can be used. The first mode is the Mandatory Mode whereby the fleet vehicle must be inside the chosen zone for the times specified. The second mode is the Prohibited Mode where the fleet vehicle must not enter the zone during the times specified. In both cases, an alert would be sent to the fleet manager when a driver enters either of the two modes.
- Tracking/ Notifications
Tracking of vehicles and Instant notifications can be set to be viewed on/ delivered to the computer, tablets or the smartphones.
- Alternate map views
A good system usually allows users to view the maps in different modes, such as street level map, satellite view or a combination of both.