Picking Your GPS Vehicle Tracking System

Like with most other forms of GPS tracking, when it comes to vehicle tracking using GPS there are two main types: real-time tracking and passive, logging tracking.  Depending on why you want to track a certain vehicle will determine which method of tracking you employ.  However, it is important to note that GPS vehicle tracking is more viable today than it has ever been in the history of GPS or vehicle tracking so there are going to be a lot of different options for the person serious about finding an option that works best for them.

There is also going to be a distinction between those who want to track a vehicle with GPS for personal use and those that want to employ vehicle tracking for a business.  The equipment and the systems used will differ in quality and design, but not necessarily in how they work – they will be using GPS tracking technology to find, record, and report the location of a vehicle to someone.  As we will see, it is how these devices do this that matters.

Real Time GPS Vehicle Tracking

When most people think about GPS based vehicle tracking they think of tracking that occurs in real time.  If a vehicle is at 101 North Main Street then a person is going to want to be able to look at a computer running some GPS tracking software and be able to tell that.  If the vehicle then turns left down Michigan Street they want to be able to tell that this has occurred within a reasonable amount of time – say 5 seconds.  This is the power of real time GPS tracking.

But there are several things that you have to realize if you are going to choose this type of GPS vehicle tracking system:

  1. Tracking devices that offer updates in real time are often anything but cheap.  It can run you hundreds of dollars just for the hardware that gets the tracking off the ground.  On top of the hardware purchase there is going to be a service fee of some amount depending on the company that you choose to service your GPS tracking plan.  Different companies will work with different hardware and some companies will charge you more than others for access to your real-time tracking information.  Most companies are going to make your tracking data available through a GoogleMaps-like interface, so it should come down to who is going to offer you the best price for the services that you really need.
  2. Not all GPS tracking devices are created equal.  The more modern the device the more likely it is going to have the latest technology in terms of GPS receptiveness and communication technology.  For example, the newer SiRFstarIII chipset is widely accepted as being superior to other previous GPS chips.  It acquires a signal much faster and can even get a GPS signal where many other older GPS chipsets cannot.  You are also going to want to make sure that your GPS has access to GPRS, a system that will allow your GPS tracking device to transmit the data it gathers on the vehicle to the software that will display it for you on your computer screen.
  3. In addition to the paid services you can get some GPS tracking for free.  Probably the best vehicle trackers are cell phones, especially since there are tons of free GPS tracking applications for them.  While you won’t get a lot out of this type of free service, if you put some thought and work into you can use a free tracking program to do all sorts of cool stuff.  It normally doesn’t scale too well, so this type of tracking is only really going to work for an individual, a family, or a small business that want to track their vehicles with GPS.

Most people who choose to use real time GPS vehicle tracking fall into one of two categories, they want to use it for GPS fleet tracking or they want to track a single person.  The reasons that business would choose to track their vehicles with GPS are obvious.  Most small businesses that employ some form of GPS tracking generally see an increase in the number of services orders that their fleet fulfills in just two years time.  The average increase they see is around 25%, making GPS tracking a very useful tool in the chest of a business owner.

If used appropriately, real time fleet tracking can improve worker productivity, create a positive work environment, improve vehicle routing, streamline fleet maintenance, and encourage efficient work habits.  This can be a win-win for employees and employers alike if deployed with tact.

Then there is using real time GPS tracking for personal use.  Here is a list of some of the reasons that a person may choose to use a personal GPS vehicle tracking system:

  • Track a teen with GPS while they drive.
  • Catch a cheating spouse in the act.
  • Know when a spouse with an erratic schedule is on their way home.
  • Keep connected with family members while on a long road trip.

This list is by no means exhaustive and is simply supposed to be a small indication of the different things that a person can do with this type of technology.  The possibilities are really limited by our imagination and ingenuity.

GPS Vehicle Tracking Loggers

Data loggers are a completely different beast.  While they do work off the same basic GPS principles that real time trackers work off of, they do not have the all important real time capabilities that GPRS gives a real time tracker.  Loggers are mostly used in covert GPS vehicle tracking done by police or by private parties to help them get a better understanding of a person’s activities.  For example, there was a GPS vehicle tracking logger at the center of the warantless GPS tracking case.  This device was used by police, who had a warrant by the way, to track down the activity of a suspected stalker.  They installed it on his car and waited about two weeks.  The evidence was then downloaded on the police computers where they were able to place the suspect at the scene of a stalking incident that happened during the time when the GPS tracking was active.

The GPS vehicle tracking equipment used in this type of tracking is often much cheaper than other their real time tracking counterparts.  You can generally get one of these devices for under $200 and they can provide location information for months since they track vehicles passively.  Also, you won’t have to worry about an expensive service fee because these devices have no such fee.  They don’t use GPRS nor do they need to communicate with a third party.  All GPS tracking software is going to be installed locally on one of your own computers so no one else has to know about the data that you gather.

Also, data loggers (like GPS tracking sticks) generally have a much longer active battery life than do real time GPS trackers.  This is because transmitting data via GPRS can be very taxing on a units power supply.  Without constant power it can be difficult to get real time information on a target that you want to track in secret and going back to the scene of the tracker could lead to having it found out by the person you want to track covertly.

This makes it great for covert GPS tracking or for tracking a person in secret.  While real time tracking is certainly going to be more useful if you want to take action on data while something is actually happening, data logging can be just as useful for vehicle tracking.

Which GPS Tracking Solution Best Meets Your Needs?

When you come to the final analysis you will have to weigh your budget constraints with your tracking wishes.  I don’t think that there are many people who would prefer a data logger over a real time tracker, but money is a serious limitation for some people and they simply cannot afford the cost associated with live tracking capabilities.  No matter which option you go with you can be certain that there is a GPS vehicle tracking device out there for you, your needs, and your budget.

2 thoughts on “Picking Your GPS Vehicle Tracking System”

    1. Hi raghu,

      I am not sure I understand the question entirely. Could you maybe rephrase it for me to help me better understand what you are asking?

      – Joe

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