Should you use your phone for GPS Tracking?

GPS Phone Tracking

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, using a cell phone for GPS tracking seems 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 the GPS 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 phones, but after a few weeks, they began to realize the downsides of the phone tracking solution vs. the hard-wired GPS tracking that Global Tracking offers.

If you are considering using a cell phone for GPS tracking, take a moment to make some comparisons.

1. Tampering

The first and most obvious problem with GPS phones is that the drivers can simply turn off either the java applet running the GPS software on the phone or the phone altogether. 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, using a metal wrap around the phone, or placing it in a toolbox 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.

2. GPS Phone Battery Life

When 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.

3. Incomplete 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 the 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.

4. Coverage and 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 GPS phone. Finally, Nextel has the weakest coverage of any wireless carrier.

In conclusion, companies who use a GPS phone for tracking vehicles and employees invariably run into the same critical performance problems that can only be overcome by installing a real-time GPS system.

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 help you select the system that is right for your company.