Frequently Asked Questions
Below you’ll find some answers to questions about GPS tracking system services and solutions.
When people talk about “GPS,” they usually mean a GPS receiver. In fact, GPS stands for “Global Positioning System.” The system was originally developed for military use, but is now available to the general public to aid in everyday navigation. GPS data is acquired from a group of dedicated satellites orbiting the Earth. GPS receivers are actually tracking devices on the ground (or at sea). The devices can be located by calling up three or more of the closest satellites. Using a process called trilateration, the resulting information is then calculated by GPS software to identify the exact positions (latitude and longitude) of the receivers. Note that GPS satellites should not be confused with communication satellites used for wireless communications. They are two completely separate satellite networks. All of GPSTrackIt’s systems link to GPS satellites for location information.
A GPS antenna is tethered to a GPSTrackIt unit with a lead wire (typically 10-15 feet). The unit is then attached to the object to be tracked. Using the antenna, GPSTrackIt software then transmits the trilateral location data from the satellites to the unit through various wireless networks (including satellite wireless). The unit does some processing of events and speeds. Additionally, the GPS vehicle tracking unit has a wireless modem inside, similar to those found in cell phones. This modem is used to communicate with GPSTrackIt’s servers. The GPS data is sent directly from the vehicle’s unit to GPSTrackIt servers, where the information is processed, enabling customers to locate associated vehicles and assets in real-time. All data is protected, as well, available by secure login only to the respective customer.
GPSTrackIt installation is not complicated. GPSTrackIt systems are typically very simple to install. 90% of our customers install the systems themselves. Simply hook up a ground and power wire, mount the GPS antenna, and the system is ready to go. However, GPSTrackIt operates a network of installation specialists in every part of the U.S. should a customer need a professional installation.
GPSTrackIt Product Specialists are in-house and experts in the field. We work one-to-one with each customer individually to develop the right system for the fleet. Call 866-320-5810 today, or complete the form at the top of this page to contact a Product Specialist.
GPSTrackIt units are quite small and are often installed discretely.
GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites should not be confused with communication satellites used for wireless communications (see wireless communications below). They are two completely separate satellite networks and applications. All of our systems use GPS satellites for location purposes, and then use various wireless networks (including satellite wireless) to communicate the location data in real-time.
As companies wanting to track their vehicles/employees begin their search for information about GPS vehicle-tracking devices, many come upon what appears to be an easy, affordable solution. To the buyer who is not familiar with how GPS systems work, cell phone GPS tracking appears to offer the cheapest way to start tracking your employees and your fleet. To the buyer who is uneducated with GPS equipment, GPS phones seem to be an easy way to begin reaping the benefits of GPS tracking, but as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” Following are the main problems with GPS phones:
- Driver tampering
- Dramatically reduced battery life requires phone to be constantly re-charged
- Incomplete Reporting
- Nextel coverage and cost
Over the years we have heard several complaints from companies who have tried using GPS phones to track their vehicles/employees. Some of our customers tried using GPS cell phones, but after a few weeks they began to realize the downsides of the phone tracking solution versus the hard-wired GPS tracking that GPSTrackIt offers.
If you are considering trying a GPS phone, take a moment to make some comparisons.
Tampering The first and most obvious problem with the GPS phones is that the drivers can simply turn off either the java applet running the GPS software on the phone or the phone all together. There are message boards throughout the Internet where crafty employees are spreading the knowledge on how to disable the GPS phone without being detected. Going into basements or using a metal wrap around the phone, or placing it in a tool box will make it appear as if the phone has merely “lost signal”. With a GPS phone, you rely too much on the person who is responsible for carrying the phone.
The best way to ensure proper reporting is to take these factors out of the driver’s hands. By using a hard-wired vehicle tracking system that is installed discreetly in the vehicle, driver interaction is taken out of the picture. The units are always on and always able to tell where a vehicle is in real time over the web.
Battery Life: When the GPS tracking is added to the phone, the battery life of the phone decreases by about 50-75%. What this means is that the GPS phone will not last an entire work day without requiring at least one re-charge. This is simply another excuse the person carrying the phone can use if he/she does not want to be tracked.
Reporting The difference in reporting is another area where the phone falls short. Although the GPS cell phones can usually report on 3-15 minute intervals like their dedicated counterparts, the fact that a GPS signal can be lost so easily, dramatically affects the Start-Stop reports it can produce. Business owners are relying on accurate reports so they can feel confident when comparing their employee time sheets against the GPS software report. Using a system that is only accurate 50% of time only leads to doubt on the employers end. When a technician insists he was at a location, but the report isn’t there to back it up, the fleet manager doesn’t know if he/she should trust the employee or the GPS data. Hard-wired GPS systems take this issue out of the equation. Because they are “always on” and have the best ability to maintain a GPS lock with the satellites, the reports a manager has to look at are always 99% accurate.
Coverage/Cost GPS phones require a minimum monthly Nextel voice plan of $39.00, plus a minimum monthly data plan of $9.99. When you add the monthly tracking services, you are easily into the $60.00+ range on monthly services, and that is minimal use of the voice on the phone. Finally, Nextel has the weakest coverage of any wireless carrier.
In conclusion, companies who use a GPS phone for tracking vehicles/employees invariably run in to the same critical performance problems that can only be overcome by installing one of GPSTrackIt.com’s real-time GPS systems.
We hope to help educate the buyer in order to help you avoid the hassle of purchasing something that will be a waste of time and money. If you are interested in learning more about our GPS tracking systems please feel free to contact us using our web form or give us a call. We currently sell several proven GPS systems for companies with one truck or thousands in their fleet, and we to help you select the system that is right for your company.
Our mission is to listen to our customer’s needs, educate our customer on GPS tracking technology and to provide our customers with the most reliable, cost effective GPS tracking systems available based on our customer’s needs and budget. Then, provide our customers the best customer service possible. If our prospective customer is truly educated on the technology that makes up a GPS tracking system, then they will find our products and pricing to be the best value for their investment.
President & CEO
GPSTrackIt.com, a division of Global Tracking Communications.
There is more than meets the eye regarding the technology that makes up a GPS vehicle tracking system. Most companies who are shopping for a GPS tracking system are not familiar with the underlying technology that is the key to the performance of the system. We have several customers who bought systems from our “competitors” based on price alone, and ended up having to scrap the system for various reasons.
When implementing technology into your company, it is important to remember this truism:
There is a price to purchase, and a cost to own, and if you purchase the wrong product, the cost to own will exceed the purchase price several times over
When shopping for a real-time GPS tracking system, there are five (5) components that need to be carefully examined:
- The vendor – purchase from a reputable vendor. Examine the company you elect to purchase from.
- Software used – view a demonstration before purchasing. Examine the web-based (or hosted) software that the end-user will be running to track and report on vehicle/asset activity
- Wireless Network – Go digital! Examine the wireless network the system utilizes to transmit the data out of the vehicle (real-time systems).
- Hardware Component – Examine the hardware component you are purchasing (does it run on digital wireless networks?).
- Unlimited Use – for a flat monthly fee. Examine the Polling rate and Monthly Billing Fees (Real-time systems)
Examine the Company you are considering as your vendor.
The Internet has allowed several “fly-by-night” GPS vendors to enter the market, and many companies that are seeking to install a quality system do not take the time to examine the company from whom they are considering purchasing. Many GPS vendors selling product over the Internet are barely educated on the product they are selling, and many are selling out-dated systems that operate on out-dated wireless networks. Take the time learn about your vendor.
The reputable companies generally will react quickly to your inquiry, make it easy to view a demonstration of their system(s), give references, offer multiple products to review and display their customers on their web site. At GTC, we allow you to view our product demonstrations online. We are proud of our distinguished list of customers, and we promote many of them on our web site: GPSTrackIt.com – Customer Success Stories..
Always check references and examine the companies who are currently using the products and services that you are considering.
For Real-time GPS tracking, the wireless network is used to communicate the GPS data from the vehicle/asset, so location, speed and stop times can be viewed in Real-time. Think in terms of how mobile phones work. There are two types used: Digital Cellular, and Satellite. Obviously, digital cellular is more popular due to cost. This is the same with communicating real-time GPS data for vehicle tracking.
Wireless Networks: Cellular vs. Satellite
- Digital cellular hardware is less expensive
- Digital cellular monthly service fees are less expensive
- Digital cellular superior network reliability
A digital cellular-based system is the best way to go for the vast majority of companies that want to use a real-time system for nearly any type of tracking.
Digital Wireless Networks
If you are looking to purchase a 1st tier GPS tracking system, then you should be looking for a system that operates on a 1st tier digital wireless network. All of the 1st tier wireless communications companies is the U.S. market have moved to digital wireless networks. There are two types of types of digital wireless protocols that the major communication companies have utilized for the build-out of their wireless networks:
- GSM- Cingular/AT&T, T-Mobile
- CDMA (1xrt) – Verizon, Sprint, Alltell
Satellite Wireless Communications
(not to be confused with GPS satellite networks)Due to the fact that (1) hardware is typically more expensive, (2) monthly service fees are high (and polling rate is low, cost is high; see polling rate), (3) satellite communications networks are unreliable; a satellite network for vehicle tracking is rarely recommended by us. Only when 100% coverage is an essential customer requirement will we recommend a system that uses satellite for communications.
Web-based Hosted Software
A demonstration of any GPS system should show the software and reporting capabilities. The web hosted software interface determines the mapping and reporting features that the system offers as well as the overall end user experience. The features available on the software are largely dependent on the capability of the actual hardware (see Examining Hardware).
The hardware is the actual GPS unit and antennas that are mounted in the vehicle. Most GPS units contain a mini motherboard with a GPS chipset and a wireless modem (real-time systems). They may also include memory and software which determines the the hardware features. One of the most critical components of the unit is the wireless modem. You should always purchase a unit that contains a wireless modem from a 1st tier manufacturer such as Motorola or Sierra Wireless. Our Locator 2000 uses a Motorola wireless modem known as the best in the market. Additionally, the modem and hardware components will determine if the hardware has telemetry capability, and wireless connectivity potential.
Polling Rate & Monthly Fees
All real-time systems have a monthly fee. In most cases the monthly fee covers the hosted web tracking and reporting fees and the wireless network fees.
When it comes to tracking your vehicles for fleet management purposes, unlimited use is crucial. You want to pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited use and unlimited polling period.
The polling rate is the frequency at which the GPS unit is configured to report its location. It determines how close to real-time a vehicle’s location can be viewed, as well as the detail within specific reports. The lower the polling rate, the closer to real-time the information is available. From our experiences, a five minute polling rate generates the right amount of detail information for 95% of the businesses who are looking to implement a real-time system. We have experimented with two (2) minute polling rate, but it simply generates too much data for a customer to sift through, and really no added value.
Ask your CPA if your GPS fleet equipment purchase qualifies your business for a Section 179 tax deduction. Section 179 allows you to deduct from your taxable income the full amount of equipment purchases up to a certain limit.