Five Common Questions About GPS Tracking

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a group of more than 30 Earth-orbiting satellites. When people talk about “GPS,” they usually mean a GPS receiver which most of us have in our purse or clipped to our belt – a modern smart phone. Most cell telephones use GPS to monitor your location on the planet in order to locate you for apps, maps, and weather alerts, among other uses. 

The U.S. military developed and implemented this satellite network as a military navigation system in the 1960’s but now lets everyone with a GPS receiver to use the signals worldwide for free. GPS is a critical component in aircraft and marine shipping, and for many other uses, including locating trucks of all sizes, off-road construction equipment, and mobile accessories such as electrical generators, programmable signs, and trailers/chassis.

What Is GPS and How Does It Work?

The acronym GPS stands for Global Positioning System. Satellites orbiting the Earth work in tandem with one another to keep the GPS system running. The GPS receivers in vehicles receive signals from those satellites. 

The time difference between the transmission of a signal by the satellite and its subsequent reception is used to calculate the vehicle’s location coordinates. A concept known as trilateration is used to calculate the exact location with the help of three or more satellites. Their signals are compared geometrically and a location on Earth is pinpointed within a few feet.

GPS vehicle and accessory tracking monitors the location, movements, status and behavior of a vehicle or fleet of vehicles, including marine shipping containers. This is done by placing a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite (GNSS) receiver and an electronic device – usually comprising a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) modem or SMS (Short Message Service or texting) sender on your vehicle or assets such as generators, off-road heavy equipment, and trailer chassis. PC-based or Web (Internet) software takes this data and arranges it into an understandable format in a graphical dashboard that a fleet manager can see on any device.

How Does GPS Tracking Work for Vehicles?

A GPS antenna is connected to a vehicle or asset with a lead wire or plug and play device to the object (vehicle, trailer, or asset) to be tracked. Customers can do it themselves or the telematics system provider can do it for you.

Using the antenna, software transmits the trilateral satellite location data to the unit. GPS uses three satellites to find a location. Combined with telematics units from companies such as GPS Trackit hard braking, hard turning, and the crossing of specified speed threshold events can be detected and processed. This information is relayed to a company’s secure servers (such as GPS Trackit), where it is processed and delivered to authorized parties (dispatchers, fleet managers, etc.). This enables authorized users to view events and locate vehicles, trailers, and other assets in real-time (and on any device including smart phones) with the fleet management dashboard.

How is GPS Fleet Tracking Installed On A Vehicle?

System installation for vehicle tracking solutions are typically simple to install. Simply hook up a ground and power wire, mount the GPS tracker to the OBD-II port connection under the dashboard, and the system is ready to go.

Some GPS fleet systems require an installer. Most GPS Trackit systems are simple enough that you can quickly install them yourself.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.

What is the difference between GPS and Satellite Communications?

GPS satellites should not be confused with communication satellites used for wireless visual and audio communications. They are two completely separate groups of satellite networks and applications. One is used to locate any object or location on Earth (with a GPS receiver), and the other is used for transmission of real-time and streaming television, music, and other communications. Most telematics systems used for tracking vehicles, chassis, trailers and other assets use the worldwide GPS system to communicate location data in real-time.

How Does GPS Tracking Work For Fleet Management?

For nearly 20 years fleet managers have come to rely on GPS tracking to keep track of the vehicles in their fleets. It has become much more than being able to see on a map where your vehicles are. The modern practice of telematics has taken GPS tracking much further by combining GPS location data with a host of other vehicle operational metrics such as speed, engine health and tire pressure. That information is combined in the IoT (Internet of Things) cloud (off-site data storage) into an on-screen graphical dashboard making it easier for the fleet manager to see vehicle status and trends across the fleet.

You can read more about how GPS tracking works in combination with fleet management here:

If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.

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