Today Global Positioning System (GPS) has become ubiquitous. From being employed merely as a navigational aid, GPS is now employed in tracking everything from personal vehicle tracking to fleet management, asset management and now even extends into improving driver behavior!
GPS tracking grew out of a military need- the accurate positioning of threat launch carriers like subs and aircrafts & cruise missiles and was known as Navstar Global Positioning System, or Navstar GPS, or just GPS (more on its history and timeline can be read here & here). Although, President Reagan first pushed for its release for civilian usage after an aviation accident, it was President Clinton who ordered the downgrade for civilian usage by turning off the special feature termed as Selective Availability (SA). SA degraded the signal by roughly 100 meters by slightly altering the satellites’ clocks, which ensured the security interests were still protected.
This powerful technology has changed our lives just within a decade of it being in the civilian space. Its application is now widespread, the technology is well entrenched in all spheres from military to transportation, science and even agriculture and livestock management.
In the transportation domain, GPS fleet-tracking software can:
- Locate vehicles
- Set up routes and give directions to assigned destinations
- Monitor vehicle conditions
- Track fuel consumption and mileage
- Identify maintenance and equipment issues
- Accident tracking & roadside assistance
- Anti-theft service
- Time clocks, attendance tracking with custom reporting, real time alerts
There are many more features and use cases. The effective deployment of these features can lead to reduction in operating costs!
In addition to tracking vehicles, the fleet monitoring technology can also improve driver performance and enhance safety. The advanced vehicle devices, correctly programmed can log everything from speed to driving patterns and aggressive maneuvers (such as sharp turns, jack rabbit starts, over speeding and hard braking), besides recording idle times and alerts about events like speeding or veering off-route.
This can be used build a ‘driving profile’ for the fleet staff. This helps in improving safety, accountability and is an excellent tool for driver training and rewarding good behavior.
Tracking can today be done via cellular network providing data in real time; via Satellite, especially for those fleets that travel outside the cellular range, albeit expensive when real-time satellite is employed; & what is known as passive tracking which provides periodic rather than real-time updates. Fleet Management & Asset Tracking are the most employed across most businesses that deal in the transportation of not just goods- perishable or otherwise, but also delivery and with competition gearing up, efficiency and effective fuel consumption & mileage to get the most out of the business is being harnessed.