GPS Yourself For Fun, Profit and the World

Here’s a great article from CleanTechnica (recommended) that points up an issue I have been talking about for years now:  GPS tracking and GPS mapping isn’t “just for the other guy”.  You can make your own ROI.

When we mention GPS tracking most people think of three major areas:

  1. Tracking commercial fleets for safety and savings
  2. Tracking public transpo like buses and taxis for public convenience and compliance
  3. Tracking prisoners/paroled offenders to save corrections costs and make the pubic safer.

But driving to work?  How lame is that, of course each one of us knows best about how to drive ourselves, right?

Well, perhaps not so.  Read this article and think to yourself, “How is it that even though I know I one of the world’s best drivers, I somehow know traffic conditions on streets I can’t even see”?

Talent is one thing, Reliable clairvoyance is something else yet again.

NAVTEQ Announces Use of GPS Can Reduce Emissions by 21%



Written by Beth Graddon-Hodgson
Published on September 8th, 2009

GPS Traffic Navigation

Many commuters have GPS installed in their cars, or have purchased portable devices to try to get them where they’re going. A recent study by NAVTEQ, a data provider for navigation systems has demonstrated that using a GPS device can not only save drivers time spent in traffic, it can also reduce emissions from vehicles by up to 21%. … there’s a lot more in the article on the value of personal GPS tracking and the study it references.  Recommended.

Two nights ago I watched a show on the National Geographic channel about commercial logging.  Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit I watched due to the “boys with big yellow toys” syndrome … it was really interesting to watch these guys showing off the high tech world that logging has become.

But a big part of the “profit puzzle” in that business is moving the raw cut logs to the proper mill at the proper time.  Mileage and routing is a huge factor in determining if each day’s work made a profit or a loss.  (no wonderment there from the fleet managers of the world or independent owner operators reading this, now is there?)

When issues came up about discrepancies between what a certain mill was paying for mileage allowance and the mileage delivery drivers were recording, the transportation manager/truck fleet owner called the drivers over for an impromptu meeting and outlined the routs available and the routing her wanted the drivers to use … with a stick, scratching in the mud. Millions in technology for cutting, trimming and loading the logs.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars for each truck trailer rig to haul the timer, thousands of dollars per load, making the difference between profit and loss on each individual day … and these guys managed their mileage with a stick in the mud?

Why, oh why, are so many otherwise smart business people such CPS Luddites?  If you want to work your way out of this recession (and you had better work your own way out, government handouts can’t do it all), then start putting cheap, effective and PROFITABLE GPS tracking to work for you and throw away the stick you have been scratching out your business with.

GPS Tracking — Jobs, Yes There Are GPS Jobs!

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GPS World Career Locator

Put Your (GPS) Bracelet Where Your Mouth Is

I’ve written here a number of times before about the common sense and the economics of GPS monitoring of certain criminals and released sex offenders and domestic abusers.

Here’s a darn good writer and a darn interesting District Attorney candidate who are getting their heads in the game and trying to demystify the technology and prove what works/doesn’t work.

Could GPS bracelets solve our prison overcrowding problem?

Philadelphia district attorney candidate will sport a monitoring bracelet for the month

Philadelphia district attorney candidate will sport a monitoring bracelet for the month

U.S. prisons have a serious overcrowding problem. It’s gotten so bad in California that a judge ordered the state to set 40,000 inmates free.  The Governator is trying to get that ruling overturned by appealing the judge’s ruling. Over on the East Coast, Philadelphia District Attorney hopeful Michael Untermeyer has a more creative solution:

Untermeyer said Thursday the city could save millions of dollars by moving nonviolent defendants out of the prison system and keeping tabs on them electronically instead.

Untermeyer says it costs $98 a day to keep someone locked up but just $8 a day to monitor them electronically.



via Philly DA hopeful dons monitoring bracelet – National Wire – fresnobee.com .

Untermeyer is totally ‘locked in’ on this issue. He’s wearing the GPS ankle bracelet for the next month and allowing voters to track his movements online. Here are the instructions. I tried to track that scoundrel down but the software at SenTrak Offender Management Solutions doesn’t seem to agree with my computer or that of my colleague…. (read the rest, recommended)

I think the two operative take away’s from this article are Untermeyer’s current figures … $90 a day saved per offender, and the fact that this is four way win situation:

Win:  The city saves a bundle

Win: The public gets better protection

Win: The police get to use their budget more effectively, catching criminals instead of watching them

Win:  And although you might not care about the rights of the offenders, think about this … every man or woman who ‘goes straight’ under this program represents an incalculable saving to society in general, the offender’s family and the offender him or herself.  Great stuff

Go Untermeyer!

The Ambulance Down In The Valley

Like anyone who writes a blog or operates a web site in support of a business, especially in the world of GPS Tracking, I take note of what people search for.  The poem below was initially posted  in response to a cigarette theft, where the stolen  $100,000 truck tractors were protected (and recovered) by means of on-board GPS, but the trailers, carrying more than $1,500,000 went missing.  very few trucking companies protect their trailers … where the cargo … the whole reason behind trucking .. rides … mainly, because their competitors don’t.  Business smarts haven’t improved any since March, I’m sad to say.

There’s a series of commercials popular on TV lately that really chaps my hide whenever I see one. A big name-brand insurance company has a guy going around and spotting hazards like a banana peel on the sidewalk. Does this do-gooder pick up the litter and protect people?

Continue reading “The Ambulance Down In The Valley”

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.