What’s New in MyGeotab Version 1903

MyGeotab Version 1903 Coming Soon to your MyGeotab UI

Let’s take a look at some of the newest features and revisions.

 

UI Enhancements

Report Download

 

In MyGeotab version 1903 the changes are subtle but very effective.  The “View” button has been more appropriately named “Reports” and you can download reports without first viewing them in the browser.  Surely that will save lots of time and help new users to get around more easily.

A “My Location” button has been added to the menu.  This will help users visualize where vehicles are in relation to where the user is and can be used much like the “Nearest” selection available from zones.  Now I am here.  Who is closest to me?

 

 

Trips HistoryThe Trips History report in browser view has been revised to separate driving and stopped time in separate rows for clarity.  You will find that this improves readability because critical data is now set apart.

Other report revisions you will welcome are on the Vehicles report.  Additional columns can be added or hidden and rearranged in the order you prefer,  Your newly created view will automatically save for future use.  The group name is now shown under the vehicle name, and a red icon identifies vehicles that have not reported.  No way to miss that!

 

More Cool Stuff in MyGeotab Version 1903

When editing zones or geofences, the zone editor window now has 2 tabs, one for properties and one to view the zone on the map.  This will make zone edits faster and easier.  There are also some new reports coming to the Marketplace.  If you have “feature preview” turned on in your user settings, you will find the Purge feature is now accessible as well.  You can set the system to automatically purge data older than a specified time frame.

So watch for the changes and be sure to call us if you have any questions.  Follow this link if you want to see the full list of updates included in MyGeotab Version 1903, including updates to the SDK.

 

Covert Tracker Placement

Covert Tracker Placement

Covert Tracking Device Placement

 

It is important to think through where you place a GPS tracker on a vehicle or asset for covert tracking. The location may vary depending on the goal being

GO Rugged Asset Tracker by Geotab

GO Rugged Asset Tracker by Geotab

vehicle recovery due to theft or cover tracking for investigative reasons. Covert tracking may be tracking the vehicle or tracking a package in a law enforcement scenario. Covert vehicle tracking is likely focused on recovering an expensive piece of equipment such as a bulldozer.

Covert tracker placement for tailing a vehicle or determining movements generally means accessing a vehicle very quickly in a public place. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a vehicle for a longer period of time in a private setting, you have a lot of options for GPS tracker placement. Since this is the exception, this post will focus on the covert tracker placement in a public setting. Learn more about covert tracking devices here.

All vehicles are made differently but most newer vehicles contain a lot of plastic which allows for good GPS reception. Metal will block a GPS signal from getting to a GPS tracker but with a little thought, this is not an issue. Modern GPS antennas work significantly better than antennas 10 years ago. Testing placement on your car(s) is the best way to get a good idea of what works and what does not. Since you have a limited time to place a device covertly, consider these variables.

  1. Place the unit where the driver or maintenance people are not likely to go. If the car is a piece of junk with bad tires, place the GPS unit near the spare tire may result in discovery.
  2. Do not place it where a mechanic may easily see it. If you place it near the oil drain plug, a technician may find it when doing an oil change.
  3. If the vehicle is low to the ground, do not place it on the bottom of the frame or a surface where it may be scrapped off going over a speed  bump.

One of the best places to locate a covert GPS tracker is on the vertical edge of the frame about mid vehicle. There are not any parts in this area that would prompt the driver to look in this area or go to this area for a maintenance issue. Another place is on the inside lip of a plastic bumper. An all metal bumper may cause issues because it is metal on three sides. You should be ready to place the device in a location that may not work with a magnet. This means a strap of some type to hold it in place. Do not count on wedging in place and it staying put. With a vehicle vibrating thousands of times per mile, the GPS tracker will always come loose.

If you have more time to install a tracker for vehicle theft recovery you have a few more options but challenges still persist. The good part is you can test the tracking performance before the equipment or asset leaves the shop. “Yellow iron” is called such because of the general steel and durable construction. This construction means there are fewer locations to place the GPS unit. In general look for soft spots or plastic to hide the GPS device. The drivers cab is a common place to start. The cab may offer a soft seat or plastic instrument panel where the tracker can be hidden. The goal is to make it hard enough to find that a thief cannot find it easily at the job site and remove it before leaving. Once the vehicle is off the site, the clock is ticketing to recover the equipment. A lot of equipment ends up at a chop shop where it is disassembled quickly, put into cargo containers and sold for parts in other countries.

To learn more about covert vehicle tracking click here.

 

Covert Tracker for Assets

Covert Vehicle Tracking

Covert Vehicle Tracking

Covert Vehicle Tracking

Fleetistics is now offering a rechargeable battery powered covert vehicle tracking solution. This new asset tracker can be recharged in a few hours and tracks for days. The update frequency can be selected to 10 seconds for law enforcement or specialty applications or every 120 seconds for less sensitive situations with a longer battery life.

To learn more about covert vehicle tracking click here.

 

Mobile App Access

Conveniently follow your GPS tracker from the mobile application. From the mobile app you can see the battery status and GPS signal quality of the covert GPS tracker.

 

Covert Vehicle Tracking Solutions

 

 

Covert Vehicle Tracker Placement

Every car, asset or package is different so it takes some testing. In general, putting the GPS tracker under the car where it cannot be seen will provide track data as shown in the image above. The higher under the car you place it, the lower the reception quality. The higher the vehicle and less metal in the vehicle, the better the overall performance. Do some testing to see what works before deploying covertly.

 

Fleet Tracking

If you are a small fleet with a very limited budget, moving one GPS tracker among vehicles is a way to get started. As your fleet grows you can move from a covert tracking scenario to a more permanent installation of a fleet management system such as the Geotab platform.

Geotab Privacy Mode

Geotab has created a privacy mode that will allow drivers and fleet managers to temporarily hide their vehicle tracking in the Geotab application. When privacy mode is used, location, speed, and engine data will not be visible. The driving data will still be collected while in privacy mode, however, it will be stored as private.

The purpose of privacy mode is for companies to temporarily not track drivers that take their vehicles home after working hours. This feature can be set to automatically turn on when work hours are finished (for example 5 pm to 8 am) or when a vehicle enters a specific zone. This is a great feature for companies that will let their employees use company-owned vehicles for personal use. Privacy mode can also be used when operating in sensitive areas to hide vehicle movement.

The privacy mode feature is downloaded through the Marketplace inside of the Geotab application. Once it is downloaded, it can be configured so that privacy mode will turn on automatically or it can be left alone so that drivers can turn it on and off themselves. For a driver to enable privacy mode, they will need to install the Geotab Drive app on their phone or smart device. A member of the admin team will also need to create the driver in the database and set them up with a password so that they can log into the Drive app. If your company is using E-Logs/HOS, you do not want to download the Privacy Mode Add-In as it will affect your duty status logs and you may no longer be in compliance per the FMCSA.

 

Learn more and join our: Introduction To Privacy Mode Webinar

GPS Tracker Comparison

GPS Tracker Comparison

Compare GPS Trackers
GPS Tracking System
Finding the right GPS tracker can mean thousands toward your ROI.

GPS Tracker Comparison

There are a wide variety of GPS trackers on the market today. Almost anything can be tracked but not everything can be tracked well. Understanding the basics of GPS tracking technology will help you make a quicker and better decision for your asset tracking needs. Being familiar with the industry terminology and technology will actually lead to an increased ROI. If you are looking for a fleet safety tool but realize you can also benefit from productivity data, you can find a GPS tracker that can help in both areas.

Let’s get started.

 

Vehicle v. Asset Tracking
 
Vehicle Trackers

Vehicle tracking provides a consistent and generally protected environment inside the vehicle. Devices don’t need to be IP67 rated like asset trackers which are more expensive. Vehicle GPS trackers typically use cellular communication due to a desire for more data, at a lower cost, because satellite coverage is not needed. Vehicle tracking services typically update every few seconds to no more than 2 minutes depending on the monthly cost. More data means a higher monthly cost.

Asset Trackers

Asset tracking can be done with satellite tracking systems or cellular GPS trackers depending on where the assets operate. Frac tanks used in the oil and gas industry generally use satellite trackers. Skid steers in urban construction almost always use cellular GPS trackers. Customers generally choose to receive more data at a lower cost; even if they cannot track an asset live 100% of the time. All GPS trackers have dead spots where they cannot communicate for some reason.

Backup Batteries

Backup batteries (BBs) are often requested and needed for unpowered assets. GPS devices require power from the asset or from a battery to operate. Assets, such as trailers, often sit without power for extended periods until connected to a tractor where power is restored. In these cases, a backup battery is needed. In vehicles, GPS devices receive constant power from the car battery.

In vehicle tracking, backup batteries are less important. BBs don’t enable the device to function as normal. BBs put the device in a reduced performance mode so the battery lasts longer. Customers often think BB will enable them to track the driver after they remove the GPS tracker as if it were still installed. BBs range from a CR2525 watch battery to lithium ion batteries. Vehicle trackers typically use small BBs which generally show you where the employee tossed the GPS unit out the window but not much more.

We sell all of the above options and have seen every scenario over the last 16+ years.

Tracking, Telematics, Diagnostics
Tracking

Vehicle location and speed data. Where an asset went, where it stopped and how long it was there.

Telematics

Data provided by the vehicles computer network and sensors (excluding engine data). This includes RPMs, accelerometer data for jack rabbit starts, harsh breaking, and reckless driving. It is the data used in accidents. Read more

Engine Diagnostics

Data transmitted by the engine through the OBD or J-Bus port generally consisting of fault codes and status data. There is a wide range of data available and GPS companies claim to offer these if they provide one data point out of several hundred. Ask good questions.

Installation & Tampering

 

There are essentially two types of installation used today; 3-wire and plug and play. The 3-wire installation is considered more reliable but it isn’t if the plug-and-play installation is done right with a Y-harness. View more on installations. 3-wire installations can be done on small to mid-size fleet trucks by most anyone that can install a car stereo. On bigger trucks and equipment it is best to use a trained installer or mechanic. Learning to install and troubleshoot the technology can save your operation a lot of time and money.

Tampering has been an issue for over 16 years. Tampering occurs with plug-and-plan (P&P) and 3-wire devices about equally. OBD devices that are installed without a Y-harness (moves GPS into the dash) are the most likely to be tampered with. Companies that sell devices requiring 3-wire installs will tell you OBD devices are always an issue. We sell both and the tamper rate is about the same. Tampering stops when you put your foot down. Read more about introducing GPS trackers to employees.

Equipment Considerations

 

Several equipment considerations such as backup batteries and communication networks are discussed in other areas of this blog. However, there are other things to consider in the physical design and construction of the GPS device itself.

First, all GPS trackers are not made equal. Significantly more engineering goes into some devices like the Geotab GO device. Other GPS units are almost “dumb” in comparison and everything else is in between. We sell them all so we are communicating facts as we know them, not opinions.

GPS devices vary in construction quality. Some have thinner plastics and others more robust internal components. A good GPS chip set means faster acquisition time from a cold start and more accurate coordinates in tough environmental conditions. Some devices do well in heat where others shut down in the Arizona sun. Ask for the technical specification sheet and the warranty on the device.

Warranty Considerations

If you think about GPS trackers like a cell phone you will be able to easily understand the general conditions. In short, most have a limited warranty period if you are not on a perpetual lease or rental. Second, if you break it you buy it. If it breaks, you keep paying for the service until fixed. If it fails due to manufacturing the device is replaced and you are responsible for the service cost to swap the unit.

Backup Battery Size and Type

Lithium ion batteries are the only real choice for a battery due to durability and long-life. The size of the battery in milliamps determines how long the battery will last based on the draw from the GPS unit when asleep and when it wakes to transmit without constant power. Since batteries don’t last forever be sure the device will use off the shelf batteries to keep your cost down. Having to special order custom batteries drives up the operational cost. If you can replace the batteries you will save big money on service work.

ELD & Dispatching
 
Electronic Logging Device (ELD for FMSCA compliance)

ELD is a big deal which is coming at certain industries fast and furious. Selecting the right GPS tracker means you will also get ELD options, if and when needed. Those fleets not yet AOBRD compliant by December 17 2019 will be in violation and taken out of service.

Read the full 126-page ruling here.

Dispatching

Dispatching is the process of sending stop or route data to a driver. Most ELD devices will offer some type of dispatching as an additional service. If you need both getting a GPS tracker that offers both will be significantly more convenient than two systems, which aren’t integrated, from two vendors.

Cellular v. Satellite

 

There are really two types of communication technology used for GPS trackers, satellite, and cellular. Don’t confuse GPS satellite with communication satellites. GPS satellites broadcast a radio wave like an FM radio station and you cannot “talk” back to it. Cellular and satellite communication generally talks 2-ways but satellites can be 1-way.

Most GPS trackers use cellular networks to move GPS and other data from the vehicle, to a cell tower, to a server, to the Internet. Because of the low cost, most fleet operators use cellular. Understanding the carrier used and the coverage footprint will enable you to know when you will receive “live” tracking data. Cellular is also more reliable because it can communicate with the towers more easily due to the radio frequency used.

Satellite communication is more of a specialty technology used when assets are operating in very remote areas where cellular service is not an option. Communication satellite signals do not penetrate objects such as trees or buildings and costs significantly more than cellular. Satellite systems also manage battery power differently which leads to less detailed track data.

Cellular networks generally use GSM or CDMA technology. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA and are generally being phased out and replaced by 4G or LTE service which also SIM cards. GSM is the international standard and is easily identified by a SIM card. SIM cards offer some flexibility but you cannot take a GPS device from one vendor and use it on another vendors website.

Log, Update & Refresh Rates

 

Understanding the relationship is important to sort out the information from various sales reps. Unfortunately, most sales reps in call centers don’t understand these concepts so you will have to prompt them to explain each in detail so you know what you are getting.

Log Rate

The frequency which the GPS tracker logs the position of the asset. This varies from a few seconds to once per day.

Update Rate

The rate at which the log data collected is transmitted to a cellular or satellite communication tower.

Refresh Rate

The rate at which the website refreshes and displays newly received log data.

Integration

 

Integration refers to the sharing or movement of data between applications, databases or services in order to increase the overall use and value of data already paid for. If you have a need to utilize the GPS tracker data in other areas you want to be sure the GPS vendor offers APIs. APIs are an industry standard method of moving data via the Internet in a secure manner. Read more