What is GPS?
GPS is the acronym for Global Positioning System. With technologies that incorporate GPS such as car navigation systems and Smartphone applications now commonplace, it is familiar technology. The GPS system relies on 24 satellites which are in a 12-hour orbit around the planet. The satellites were launched into space 20,000 kilometres (12,000 miles) above the ground, by the Unites States military. They were initially intended for military use, but were made available for civilian use in the 1980's, and now their GPS use is global.
The satellites beam a radio signal back to Earth, which is received by special receivers. Using a mathematical calculation called triangulation, the receivers use the positions of three satellites relative to one another to plot their coordinates. These coordinates are then used by GMS devices in order to calculate their position relative to the positions of the satellites in the sky.
How does Real-Time GPS Tracking work?
Tracking is a little different to using a navigation system in a vehicle, although it shares many features. The GPS device again uses the coordinates of the satellites relative to its own position, to calculate where it is. Instead of displaying this on a digital map in the vehicle (although it could do this if necessary), it sends the information out. So, the information can be accessible through logging onto a special account on the internet, or via a Smartphone application, or through software installed onto a personal computer.
As the information is real-time, it is a constant stream of location coordinates. This allows the information to be updated allowing the vehicle can be tracked as it moves, usually via map software.
What are the Benefits of using Real-Time GPS Tracking?
Real-time tracking can be carried out under as many or as few criteria as desired. It can:
- Give information about how far a fleet car is from a destination, the speed it is travelling at, and the direction it is moving in. This will allow the company to manage deadlines, produce effective routes, keep customers and logistics personnel updated, and produce accurately projected delivery information for customers.
- Alert the company if a car goes outside a given boundary (the parameters are set by the company). This is called geofencing.
- Alert the company if a car is being used without authorised use, outside normal working hours, or for personal use.
- Calculate a wide range of statistics, for example, the number of hours an employee has driven (useful for timesheets and remaining legal), distances covered by individual employees and by the fleet, fuel consumption, and even the use of fuel payment cards.
In short, a company can understand, compare, and make improvements to their employees' use of the fleet cars and working day.
The device can also relay other information relative to the vehicle, for example, engine temperature, use of headlights, and door opening and closing.
Many companies whose main business involves the use of fleet cars find GPS tracking invaluable for many reasons. Tracking devices are not illegal to use, as long as the employee is aware. The information that is both immediately available and is stored as data can be used to analyse improvements to the business, ensure that employees are meeting performance targets and not using the vehicles for unauthorised usage, reduce fuel costs for the fleet, and improve the ability of the company to communicate accurate delivery information with customers.