GPS Tracker Features (UPDATED APRIL 2021)
1. Tracking in Real Time
This is the primary purpose of most GPS trackers. The GPS determines the vehicle location. The location is sent through the internet, and displayed on a website owned by the tracker vendor. On this website you can see the vehicle location, and speed. Many systems also show the current status of the vehicle. For example, parked, idling, or whatever. The same map can show the location of multiple vehicles. Some systems enable you to choose which map you would like to use. Options may include Google Maps, Google Earth, Open Street Maps (OSM) and others. Many GPS trackers can also be integrated with third party Fleet Management Systems.
2. Phone Apps
Most GPS tracker vendors also supply apps for phones. This means you can see the location of your vehicles using a phone app. Handy for when you’re out and about. Also, the driver can use the app to receive alerts on their phone.
3. Vehicle History
Vehicle location history is kept in a database for use as necessary. For example, you may want to see where a particular vehicle was at a certain time, or what speed it was doing. You can see the entire history of a vehicle on a map. Other information is also stored. For example, distance travelled, average speed, fuel consumption, and so on. Some GPS tracking systems even include an option to replay the entire trip.
4. Alerts and Notifications
GPS tracker systems usually include several types of alerts. Drivers receive these alers through their phone app. They are also displayed on the web interface. Some systems also support SMS or email alerts. Examples of real-time alerts include speeding, excessive idling, and possible theft. Some GPS trackers also include configurable alerts, such as when maintenance is due.
Geofencing is a special kind of alert that is triggered by vehicle location. To make it work, you predefine areas on the map. For example, a radius around a specific point, or an area marked on the map. The GPS tracker system alerts you whenever the vehicle crosses these predefined boundaries. Some geofencing systems include timing information. In this way the geofence is only active at certain times of day. Geofences are a great way for companies to control expensive unauthorised vehicle use. Vehicle owners can also use this to ensure vehicle security.
6. Reports and Dashboards
Most GPS tracker systems include reports and dashboards. These are especially useful for managing large numbers of mobile assets. They help you analyze historical information and use it to help future profitability. Some GPS tracker systems also support downloading data. You can manipulate this data to create reports that meet your own unique needs.
7. User Management
The most basic GPS trackers include hardware, a website to view vehicle location, and a phone app. This is adequate for tracking a single vehicle, but it’s not enough for managing fleets. Advanced GPS tracker systems include proper user management. This means you can create groups of users, and each group can have different access. This enables managers to see all vehicles under their control. Individual drivers, however, may only be able to see their own vehicle. Authorised users can see the historical activity of the entire fleet.
8. Ease of Installation
The simplest GPS trackers are mounted on the vehicle dashboard. From there they are normally powered from the cigarette lighter socket. However, most modern systems are mounted under the dashboard. Power comes from from the OBD-II port. This port provides power, and vehicle information such as the status of the engine (running or not). If the GPS tracker is installed under the dashboard you may need to install a separate GPS receiver. This normally goes the corner of the windshield and ensures a stronger GPS signal. We recommend buyers consider the ease of installation when choosing a GPS tracker. This is especially for fleet systems, where moving units between vehicles is common.
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BY MATTHEW PEARSON - TECH WRITER, TELEMATICS ADVOCATE AND GPS TRACKERS EXPERT
LAST UPDATED 18 APRIL 2021
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