GPS Tracking Plans Come Together

As my old friend Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith was famous for saying, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  This morning I spent a lot of time exploring the site of a company that basically does it all for customized GPS tracking that will exactly match up with your business needs.  The company is GPS Gate and I was so surprised to see a Google ad for them when this page opened.  great minds think alike, I guess 😉

GPS tracking mapFor years I have suffered both as a client and a solution provider from the exclusive proprietary-ness of almost all GPS equipment and service providers.  Here we have a free, world-wide totally ‘open sourced’ utility … the GPS itself, and open source specifications, such and the NMEA (National Marine Electronics Association) for typing off-the-shelf or custom-built components using the GPS together, and yet for years manufacturers have conspired to try to make access to the basic ‘guts’ of the system difficult or even impossible.

GPS gate is a company dedicated to selling software and hardware that not only works within the GPS but also works with other manufacturer’s equipment and software so that the user, and the customer GPS service provider comes out the winner.

We need more companies like this in order to move GPS tracking from the backwaters of the technocrats into the forefront of business management and increased business profit through GPS Tracking

GPS Fleet Tracking — Benefits You Haven’t Thought Of

GPS Fleet Tracking — Standard Benefits

When it comes to GPS Fleet Tracking, the average business owned or fleet manage feels he or she has heard it all.  From salesman after salesman:

  • Reduced fuel costs
  • Reduced wasted trips
  • Reduced labor hours
  • Increased safety

And these and more are certainly all true.  I’ve been working in the GPS Fleet Tracking industry for more than 10 years now, ion both the sales and the customer side, and I have yet to find a fleet management situation where properly selected and implemented fleet GPS tracking can’t pay for itself in less than a year.  Often the payback … the ROI … comes in only a few months.

GPS Fleet Tracking — Hidden Benefits

GPS Fleet Tracking in Action
Were they There, or Were they Not?

But what about the benefits that you don’t always hear ballyhooed in the sales literature?

How about improved team performance?  What about increased employee loyalty? To hear most fleet drivers and their managers talk about GPS tracking, it often comes across as something only slightly less distasteful than a root canal …. but my experience proves that is not always the case.

Sometime back one of my client’s drivers was accused of striking another vehicle and causing serious property damage, then leaving the scene.  The police arrested this driver based on “eye witness testimony” of an accident witness.  The driver was charge with a felony offence and the owner of the vehicle which was damaged called a news conference to announce his intention to sue the driver;s employer, alleging the employer helped conceal the accident, aided and abetted the driver in eluding the police and a whole laundry lest of other claims and possible slanders.

Significantly missing in the place and the media’s notional “take” on the indecent was the fact that there was no identifiable damage to the alleged hit and run vehicle, and the accused driver claimed he had not been within several miles of the hit and run location on the day in question.

What a day the company owner (and the accused driver) were having.  A long, hard day and none of it any good

However, after the shock wore off, the business owner remembered that there was a GPS fleet tracking device on the alleged accident vehicle.

Now it might sound silly to you that he wouldn’t have thought of that right away … but you will never know just how you would react in a sudden pressure situation like that.

Can you guess what the record of the GPS fleet tracking device showed?  Yep, you got it.  The accused driver was right, he hadn’t been in the area at all that day … impossible that he could have been the vehicle who struck the victim and ran away.

Faced with the impartial third-party evidence of the GPS tracker, the police did what they probably should have done to begin with.  Started checking back on the story.

The supposed “eye witness” as a close political crony of a local politician.  Said politician owned the vehicle that had been damaged and also had a huge ‘axe to grind” with the business owner in question and also had had clashes in the past with the alleged hit and run driver.

GPS Fleet Tracking — Bottom Line

Bottom line?  The entire incident was a lie, except for the fact that the politician’s car actually had suffered damage from a hit and run driver.  That driver is still unknown.

The wrongfully accused driver was released and exonerated, the maligned business owner got his own media coverage, announcing to the world the plot that had been uncovered, and the police charged the original false witness with filing a false police report.

Last time I was in touch with the case there were some other civil cases in progress too.

GPS Fleet Tracking — Hidden Benefits Can Be Bigger Than Advertised Benefits

So … even though the GPS fleet tracking system was more than paying for itself in the mundane world of fuels savings, reductions in excess miles, etc., that on single occasion made it worth all that had been invested and more to the far-sighted business owner who had installed dedicated GPS fleet tracking on his trucks to improve his management bottom line.  How high do you think employee loyalty soared in his company after he went to bat for his employee that way?

What’s you comment )or question) on GPS Fleet Tracking?

GPS Tracking and Teens — Recommendations

    I get a lot of searches on "Tracking Teens" and "Teen GPS" so I thought it was time to do a comprehensive rundown on the subject.

    It’s certainly a hot item these days.  One of the first issues that always comes up is privacy and legality.  These amazing days parents seem to have to live in fear of their children suing them.  Of course, parents who let their teens get in trouble also are often in a legal bind as well.  Here’s a very interesting article on FindLaw teen tracking Legalities .  In general it’s about what you would expect from a lawyer not working directly for you … a confirmation that there is currently very little actual law on the subject and that in general, parental rights are going to trump any rights that children might have.  I’ll have bit more to say on this subject in my recommended techniques and implementations at the conclusion of this piece.

    Given that you have the right, and the duty, how can you go about it?  There are a number of common techniques and services available and I’ll give you my professional opinion on the pros and cons of each one:

      • Cell Phone tracking:  this is currently a big commercial venture by a number of major carriers.  GPS-enabled cell phones are readily and cheaply available and many of the plans are quite inexpensive.

          • Pros: 

            • Cheap

            • Readily available

            • Commonly known (the kids won’t have to feel like geeks)

            • No installation, software installs, etc.  Buy the phone, buy the service, track the phone

              • Some of the many vendors:

                • ULocate: Available for Motorola Phones on Nextel or Verizon only ~$15 extra per month

                • Mobile Locator this service offered by Sprint is also tied to the Nextel network ~$15 extra per month

                • Sprint also offers a separate Family Locator Service which has been talked about a lot but is hard to find hard data on.

              • Cons

                • Cheap … un the GPS world it’s still very much a case of you get what you pay for.  These services use very cheaply-built consumer grade cell phones, somewhat of a "catch as catch can" tracking "back end" and are offered by companies to whom tracking is a very foreign thing.

                • Reliability … poor.  In addition to cell phone coverage issues, most of these phones make it amazingly easy to defeat the tracking application.  Merely receiving a phone call requires the phone user to manually re-enable tracking … “Ooops, mom, I forgot”.

                • Premise … backwards.  You want to track your teen and keep him or her safe.  So instead you track their phone.  Well if I’m going to drag race at two in the morning I’m going to leave my phone with the ‘stake holder’ in the drive in while I go out an run a hundred and fifty through traffic.  If I don’t wind up killing someone from the Tongan Royal family, mom will just think I have been in the drive-in drinking Diet Doctor Pepper.

                 

                  • In Car dedicated GPS Tracker, Live: These typically are the same units used by many small businesses to track employees and trucks.  They can be mounted out of sight and semi-permanently so at least you know you’re tracking the kid’s car and not his phone in his girlfriend’s handbag.  They send reports back to parents at regular intervals and thus have some sort of monthly subscription fees.

                      • Pros:

                        • Significantly better reliability.  Most install easily and just plain work

                        • Much better resolution.  If these units say Jane is driving on Maple Street, she’s driving on maple Street.

                        • Long-life.  One of these systems will last through several teen’s driving careers.  A cell phone is out of style in 6 months.

                        • Cons:

                          • Upfront investment

                          • Monthly fees

                          • All require some installation work

                          • Only track the car and not the driver if s/he goes "walkabout"

                           

                            • In car dedicated GPS Tracker, Historic (data loggers):  These are offered in both consumer and commercial grade.  they report the driver’s activity after the fact, such as when the car returns home for the night.  This doesn’t sound as "sexy" as real time units but they are preferred by many businesses, security fleets, school districts, etc.  they offer the most "bang for the buck" in reporting.

                                • Pros:

                                  • Low initial cost

                                  • relatively simple installation

                                  • NO monthly cost

                                    • Some typical suppliers:

                                      • Travel Eyes2 The Internet’s low-price leader.  List price ~ $200 USD, no monthly cost

                                      • Shadow Tracker  About $500 USD.  Reports for free at home on a wireless link

                                      • GO RF or Key About $500 USD, reports by key chain fob or private wireless

                                    • Cons:

                                      • Not real time, only report after the fact

                                      • Installation is required

                                      • All cost more than cell phone based solutions

                                       

                                        • Non-GPS Services:  Typically these revolve around bumper stickers and 1-800 numbers asking fellow motorists to report egregious or even exemplary driving behavior.

                                            • Pros:

                                              • No equipment required

                                              • Cheap .. costs can be as little as the price of a bumper sticker if the parent wants to use their own phone number

                                              • Many eyes are watching:  Parents may get reports of behavior that wouldn’t be noticed by GPS … riding friends on the hood, basting their 20,000 watt stereos in public places, having sex in the school parking lot, etc.

                                              • Cons:

                                                • Very much hit or miss.  Who among us hasn’t seem a driver doing something dangerous and just shaken our head and gone on our way.  In my own experience I would _never_ call one of these numbers on a private car, because the typical parent will want to argue about how good his or her little angel is … not worth my time or blood pressure.

                                                • Subject to abuse:  teens are always getting into disputes with each other … it’s a part of growing up.  Billy gets pissed at Frankie, Frankie has a "how’s my driving" sticker, Frankie’s dad is going to get a call … facts of life.

                                                • Responsibility:  If I want reports on my child’s behavior, I am going to gather the data.  It is not the responsibility of others to look after my child, nor is it my responsibility to monitor yours.  It may "Take a Village" in today’s world, but it takes individual responsibility within that village to make it work.

                                              • Hope some of these meanderings have given you some insight into the issues and what’s available.

                                              GPS Tracking Delivering New Business

                                              Instead of yet another story about how to save money or how to live through the current hard times, why not invest an hour or so in learning about a potentially huge new aspect of business whose surface has barely been scratched yet?  There’s money to be made out there, folks.  The world doesn’t end with the pressing pundits on your TV .. most of whom have never earned a dollar in business to begin with …

                                              Unleashing the Potential in the U.S. LBS Market

                                              Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2009
                                              Time: 10:00 a.m. Pacific / 1:00 p.m. Eastern
                                              Speakers: Lisa Peterson & Rob Groot
                                              Duration: 60 minutes

                                              Register Now!


                                              Event Description

                                              Consumers and enterprises are using location-based services more than ever before. They are using their phones to view their location and their friends’ locations, to find a nearby business location and get directions to that location, and to check location-relevant information, like traffic, weather, and events. The LBS market is hotter than ever, but is still years from achieving its promised potential. Find out the keys that will unleash this potential, learn about the key market players and their roles, what applications are gaining the most momentum in the marketplace, and what insight the market trends may provide about the future.

                                              Event Speakers: Lisa Peterson & Rob Groot

                                              Register

                                              Lisa Peterson, is President of Peterson Mobility Solutions, LLC, which provides strategic consulting and professional services to clients that require knowledge and expertise in the areas of LBS wireless data applications and digital content, and/or need support in developing partnerships within the wireless ecosystem. Lisa’s primary goal is to help companies develop winning product, marketing and partnering strategies for the introduction of new products to the marketplace. She is a subject matter expert in LBS and frequently collaborates with CJ Driscoll & Associates on LBS market research studies. Her experience with LBS began as a Sr. Product Manager overseeing a portfolio of LBS applications at Sprint-Nextel in 2003. Lisa has over 15 years of experience in telecommunications and has developed an extensive network of contacts in the industry and is a frequent speaker at many LBS industry events.

                                              RegisterRob Groot is a consulting associate for Peterson Mobility Solutions, LLC. In the past 7 years Rob managed bringing LBS closer to the consumer as well as to businesses. He managed the worldwide roll out of several LBS offerings for mobile phones as well as dedicated GPS devices. Initial solutions depended on operator network based location technology and with the ever increasing mobile capabilities solutions became less network dependent. In the past 2 years Rob has focused on location based social networks and their business models, location based advertising and new mobile location technologies like WiFi, BlueTooth and TV signal based location. Rob is intimately aware of location technologies, from network based to device based, in   1993 he imported and installed the first commercial GPS solution in Greece.

                                              What You’ll Learn

                                              • The current state/overview of LBS market in the U.S.
                                              • Key market drivers and trends in LBS.
                                              • The economic models and who in the value chain has the most influence?
                                              • What is location based advertising and when will it arrive?
                                              • What applications have been the most successful and what will be the most successful in the future?
                                              • Consumer readiness and receptiveness.
                                              • Industry challenges.
                                              • What are the emerging technologies and the future outlook.

                                              Who Should Attend?

                                              • Telematics Executives
                                              • Marketing Professionals
                                              • Advertising Executives
                                              • Publishers and Content Providers
                                              • Media/Entertainment Executives
                                              • Wireless Executives
                                              • Purchasers of Wireless Products
                                              • Automakers
                                              • Consultants
                                              • Analysts
                                              • Government Officials
                                              • Network Operators
                                              • Integrators
                                              • Suppliers

                                              Register Now

                                              Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved

                                              GPSWorld.com

                                              Of Course We Don’t Need GPS Tracking, Our Employees Are Loyal

                                              But then, again, are you sure? 

                                              Remember what Ronald Reagan was famous for saying, “Trust, but Verify”

                                              Read this for a clue as to what might be going on that you don’t quite have a handle on in your company/department:

                                              1372668_6a583031An Augusta Recreation Department supervisor has been placed on leave without pay for allegedly using a city dump truck to steal a load of dirt.

                                              Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan confirmed that property and maintenance supervisor Jerome K. Johnson was placed on three days’ leave without pay on Friday while Shanahan investigates the allegations.

                                              “Misuse of government vehicles and taking government assets that aren’t yours; it’s definitely something we take seriously,” Shanahan said.

                                              The city is examining GPS tracking records to determine where the dump truck went, he said.

                                              According to city records, Johnson has been with the city since 1999. He was working at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course before joining the cemetery crew as a supervisor last year.

                                              Now here’s a very typical story.

                                              And a case of why you need to verify what your employees are doing.  Or pay the price.

                                              Either this employee is blatantly robbing the city, or he’s been falsely accused and he need to have his name cleared.

                                              So much easier to do either one, _IF_ the city uses GPS tracking.

                                              Update, just at publication time I found an update … the case against Mr. Johnson has been substantiated and he has been fired. 

                                              Good work, City of Augusta.

                                              GPS Tracking — Where’s The ROI

                                              Are you getting the most out of your dollar?

                                              For years now I’ve been hearing nothing but the excuse, “We Can’t Afford It” when I talk business-oriented GPS tracking to fellow entrepreneurs.  I can always come up with facts and figures that show astounding Return On Investment (ROI) right in their own market.  But I;m a little guy, and of course, I was always suspect because I was selling the product.

                                              Well I;m not selling any longer, and this report, from the Aberdeen Group represents a huge cross-section of the world-wide market.  The price is right, the information is priceless.  You make the call.

                                              GPS Tracking speakersToday’s powerful GPS-based navigation tools may eventually eliminate the age-old dilemma associated with asking a stranger for directions. With the adoption of such tools and the innovations around the uses of location information, best-in-class companies are driving up resource utilization rates and slashing operating costs to the tune of 21% providing a significant return on investment and a clear leadership position.

                                              Are you getting the most out of your dollar?

                                              Attend this complimentary webinar to:

                                                Discover how best-in-class companies are achieving measurable ROI after deploying a fleet management solution.

                                                Hear for the first time Senior Aberdeen Analyst Sumair Dutta discuss the findings from his latest research report, Service Workforce & Fleet Management – Driving Utilization with Location Intelligence.

                                                Learn how NewWave Communications identified inefficient practices, deployed a fleet management solution and anticipates saving $175,000 during the first year of deployment.

                                                Identify actionable take-aways that you can begin executing immediately in your business to gain a competitive edge, impact your customer’s experience and increase your bottom line.

                                              Register Now

                                               

                                               

                                              The Return on Investment

                                              Fleet-Specific Metrics Average Change Since Implementation of Fleet Management

                                              • Idle Times 25%
                                              • Fleet Utilization 32%
                                              • Fuel Costs  -22%
                                              • Operating Costs/Vehicle  -21% (~$740/vehicle)
                                              • Daily Mileage  -31% (~1,678 miles)

                                              Workforce-Specific Metrics  Average Change Since Implementation of Location Intelligence

                                              • Workforce Productivity 23%
                                              • Workforce Utilization 25%

                                              Aberdeen Group, May 2009   Register Now

                                              GPS Tracking — Does It Really Work?

                                              The web seems to have far too few stories that document real-world savings.  Not that those savings with GPS equipment tracking aren’t real, but I guess too few users and providers of GPS fleet tracking equipment bother to take the time to document the results.

                                              Here’s a well written GPS Fleet Tracking Success Story I think you’d be interested in.  It points up what I have said and proven for years … even small service companies can save big with GPS fleet tracking technology, and by far the largest savings are in operational areas beyond the trucks themselves.  Enjoy.

                                              GPS Tracking Success Story…Visibility into its fleet – one of the features on Moon’s wish list – allows management to locate vehicles easily either in real-time or in playback, invaluable when needing documentation to show customers. Even when vehicles go out of wireless range, the system forwards activity information as soon as it returns to a wireless coverage area.

                                              Moon Services has not only achieved the primary objectives of increasing customer retention and decreasing customer disputes, but it also increased fleet efficiency and reduced expenses. For instance, Moon reduced overtime by 12-15 hours each week, saving the company more than $180,000 per year. Each driver saves one tank of gas per month and is getting better mileage by driving well maintained vehicles and being more attuned to speeding.

                                              GPS laws — Updating Needed

                                              Laws on GPS use need to be updated

                                              WHEN Global Positioning Systems (GPS) first came on the scene, they were used mainly by local law enforcement and federal government agencies.

                                              Now they’re available to businesses and parents who want to use them to track employees or children. General Motors uses GPS technology in the NorthStar system in many of its higher-end vehicles.

                                              A GPS in a cell phone or in a car can bring peace of mind to parents who want to keep track of their small children while they work, or can monitor teenage drivers after they get out of high school. Also, it can be used by spouses who are suspicious of what their mates may be up to… Read Article Here:

                                              Often the general news media hue and cry about GPS and privacy issues is so lopsided or ignorant I don’t even bother to read it or post about it.

                                              But here’s an article from the Argus that short, to the point and with which I totally agree.  In general,

                                              • If you won a vehicle you can track it
                                              • If folks work for you, you can track them with their prior consent
                                              • If you’re a parent, you can track your child
                                              • If you carry a cell phone it is subject to tracking, GPS or not

                                              Those four generalization however don’t begin to track the surface of GPS …. I should say  … tracking law.  I am at heart a person who believes that in many ways we already have too many damn laws.  But I can’t deny that in the case of rapidly expanding new technology we need new laws … or significant clarification of old ones.  Let’s take one example from my bullets above.  Parent tracking child.  If, by child, we mean a natural offspring under 18 years of age, although I am not a lawyer, I think you can safely say that you can track that person, with or without their consent, in any of the 50 states.  Whether or not you should track without consent is another story for another day (I think not), but I don’t think one of your own children could successfully bring suit against you for doing so.

                                              What about a stepchild, though, as in the story the article references?  Wanna make a bet?  I sure don’t.  Although in many cases the law would consider your rights the same as a natural parent there are dozens or hundreds of other factors that might enter in.  What does the child’s natural parent think?  How old is the child?  on and on. 

                                              Now let’s say you have some vehicles in your business.  You place tracking devices on them and use the information you gather to help you run your business.  So far I think you’re on safe ground anywhere.  But one day you find some egregious employee misconduct by an individual, you fire him, based on what you "see" him doing via the GPS records.  He files a wrongful termination suit.  Does he have a chance?  Again, something I wouldn’t make a bet on because the law is so silent on this matter it’s like a vacuum.

                                              You give an employee a company-owned laptop.  You take care to insure that there is no GPS device attached to it because you specifically want to avoid the tracking issue.  Now the employee downloads a free software like Loki and sends his location back to the office unintentionally, proving he’s in Fenway watching the Sox when he swore he was going down to Providence that afternoon to see a client without fail.  Can you fire him based on knowing his location without his knowledge, even if he was the person who installed the technology? (I’ve written about this non-GPS location technology here).  Among other things it does this:

                                              Location-Based Search and ‘Virtual GPS’

                                              Loki pinpoints your exact physical location and then uses that location to make the web revolve around you wherever you are. With Loki you’ll always know where you are, make sure that others know where you are too, never get lost and always be able to find stuff nearby.

                                              The law should tell us what we can’t do, and by default then we can do what the law doesn’t speak to us, but we can’t take proper advantage of GPS and wireless technology with today’s deafening silence.  GPS is in the forefront on this issue but there are other common tracking technologies, in particular cell phones (even those without GPS) and wireless IP tracking technology.