EZ Fleet Blog

How does GPS Tracking Work?

Posted by Jen Langan on Jan 5, 2018 8:21:13 AM

Ever wondered how GPS tracking works? Whether it is for fleet tracking, asset tracking or personal tracking (or pet tracking!), the principles are the same. Here, we’ll give you an overview of a GPS tracking system.

Architecture

A GPS Tracking system needs 3 things to operate.

  1. GPS Tracking Device
  2. Communications Network
  3. Software Program to collect and display the data.

 We’ll explore each of these components below.

 Satellite.png

GPS Tracking Device

A GPS device works by receiving signals from the network of GPS satellites and triangulating location based on the time stamp of the signal received from the various satellites. The farther the satellite is away from the receiver the greater the difference between the time broadcast by the satellite and the time maintained on the receiver. Using the speed of light to calculate the distance, the location can then be determined based on triangulation. The US government maintains a large number of GPS satellites in orbit and to get an accurate location, line of site to a minimum of 3 satellites is required (more = more accuracy). If the GPS device doesn’t “see” any satellites then a location is estimated using last known location and sometimes interpolating from the strength of cellular signals.

Communications Network.png

Communications Networks

Early Fleet Tracking solutions used satellite networks for communications as cellular data networks were not ubiquitous and the cost to transmit data was similar to the cost of satellite networks. That meant that the first implementations of GPS tracking were for long-haul fleets that could afford the high initial equipment costs (satellite devices are more expensive than devices using cellular technology) and monthly service plans. As cellular networks deployed 2G, 3G and now 4G solutions the cost of communication has dropped, making cellular-based GSP solutions much more popular. With the price of hardware also dropping with high volumes, the overall price of tracking solutions has also dropped. Now, there are many more applications for GPS tracking that have a positive ROI. For fleets, when once only long haul fleets used GPS, now fleets of any size are seeing a strong business case for deploying GPS tracking solutions. For assets, in the past only the most valuable assets were tracked (for example, one early implementation for Wells Fargo used tracking solutions for their bags of money moving between banks. Now, the use of asset tracking is ubiquitous and examples are in every industry, from tracking bananas on their journey to stores to tracking pharmaceuticals from manufacturer to drug store. As devices get smaller, personal and pet trackers have started to appear. In the future, tiny, inexpensive devices running on very low cost communications networks will be used to track whatever someone wants to follow.

At EZ Fleet Tracking, we use the cellular network to receive GPS and other data from our devices and also to send information the devices to enable remote configuration.

We use a variety of cellular providers, working hard to reduce the cost of service so that we can offer you fleet tracking solutions at the best possible price. In addition, price reductions and increases in data speeds with 4G have allowed us to roll out a number of new features, improving the business case for GPS tracking solutions. We were the first to offer a 4G tracking solution, allowing us to leverage the new networks recently deployment by the Operators in the US and Canada and ensuring that today’s deployment will not become obsolete in a few years, making your ROI even higher.

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Software Platform:

All the data collected by the devices in the field need to go somewhere. Our software platform has a number of elements to collecting the data, storing data, presenting the data and also for managing the devices, users, vehicles and assets. Other solutions are similar. 

Device Manager – Used to configure and check status on devices

Infrastructure/Administration Server – Used to maintain and manage information about accounts, users, or devices

User Interface – Software designed to analyze their fleet or asset movement and performance using an intuitive interface.

A representation of our complete system is below:

Complete GPS System.png

Topics: GPS, Asset Tracking, Fleet Tracking

 

EZ Fleet Tracking

We offer a full line of GPS tracking solutions for fleets, powered assets and non-powered assets. We were the first to offer a 4G tracker. Our software is 100% cloud based, reliable and scaleable.

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