GPS Accuracy

Location Accuracy

The advertised location accuracy of most GPS trackers less than 3 meters. Accuracy can vary outside this standard deviation based on environmental factors such tree cover, tall buildings, GPS antenna used, device engineering and GPS device install location.

 

GPS-Accuracy-Comparison

Speed Accuracy

Speed accuracy is something we do not put a lot of thought into but speed accuracy can vary quite a bit. The GPS tracker and the GPS on your phone is more accurate than the speedometer on your vehicle. The older the vehicle, the less accurate the speedometer is. Speed is significantly impacted by changing the factory tire size. Wear changes the tread depth and size of a tire over time. An old tire is not as large as a new tire so the axle spins faster giving a false speed.

To determine speed accuracy from the GPS tracking map, scroll your mouse over the map route leading up to the speeding incident if you are using Geotab. Other GPS trackers will not be as accurate and do not have as much data. If the vehicle speed gradually increases, it is valid data. If the speed jumps from 40 to 85 with nothing in between, it would be difficult to hold a driver accountable for this because data is missing between these two points.

 

Posted Road Speed (PRS) Accuracy

Posted road speed varies from super accurate based on Fleetistics testing, to occasionally not so accurate. It is far more accurate than it was 5 years ago. I have driven past speed limit signs and watched the data change in Waze within feet. Generally, the more populated the area, the more accurate the data because there is a greater chance someone will submit a correction or from mapping cameras that frequent these areas more often. PRS is only as accurate as the data provided by the government, data that is submitted by citizens or AI, and the data set selected by the GPS tracking company. Cameras with artificial intelligence are helping reduce the time between a speed change, or new sign going in, and the time until it enters the data set. Citizens can submit corrections to the mapping companies which will be included fairly quickly. I submitted a road through the heart of Tucson, AZ to OpenStreetMaps and it was updated quickly which eliminated a lot of speeding exceptions. A submission to Google was live within two days. Highway speeds and primary surface roads are generally very accurate but it can vary by state.

In short, you have to validate exceptions.

 

Employees

Often times employees will claim the GPS is incorrect. Performing the two tests below will give you the confidence that the GPS is more accurate than the employees description. If you have to, do the test in the vehicle with the employee. If the GPS tracker is off, and it happens occasionally because of external factors, the deviation is typically so great it is obvious. Since 2001 Fleetistics has not seen a situation when the deviation is consistently X and you cannot tell something is wrong. The deviation is generally 30x and the vehicle plots in the ocean or 250 miles away for 1 or 2 data points, the speed goes to 321 MPH to cover this distance and then the plot comes back to the expected route. This is typical of a reflected GPS signal most often seen going under an overpass. Most of the time the GPS device filters this data because it cannot be valid. If the track follows the road, the data is accurate. Accuracy is one of Geotab’s strongest features.

 

Accuracy Testing

Below are two tests you can conduct to get a feel for the accuracy for a particular vehicle. The question is what is the business case where the accuracy is in question?

 

  1. Speed Test: Set the speed buzzer on your Geotab GPS device at 70 MPH and take a drive. Open WAZE and view the speed Waze indicates you are traveling and compare it to your speedometer. Waze will be more accurate reading because it is not impacted by tire size and other environmental factors. This will determine your speedometers margin of error. Increase your speed at a normal rate until you reach the speed set on your Geotab device. When the buzzer goes off compare it to Waze and your speedometer. You will now know the margin of error for the Geotab device in relation to your speedometer.
  2. Location Test: Park your vehicle in a particular parking space. Open Geotab, change to satellite view and see if your vehicle is plotted correctly. This will show the accuracy. Below is the picture from my truck today. It is showing the correct parking space and even the GPS being on the left side of the parking space. I would estimate this is within 2 feet of the actual GPS location inside my truck.

GO9 Technical Specifications

Speed Graph

Vehicle Cameras for Fleet Management

Vehicle cameras are becoming more and more popular as a fleet management tool.

Rosco vehicle cameraAs with any new tool, it takes time to understand the best ways to leverage camera use on your fleet vehicles.  When selecting and setting up your vehicle camera system, managing consumption to avoid data overage needs to be considered. Ask yourself some questions when you begin.  What information will be most beneficial to you in video format? How do you plan to use it? Who will be responsible for reviewing it?

There are several different types of camera systems, designed for different purposes, and it is important to select the system that will record and deliver the specific type of video record you need.  No longer are cameras just a risk management measure to have a record in case of an accident.  Forward-facing cameras monitor the road and potential hazards in front of the vehicle.  They can stand alone, or be used with peripheral cameras.  Some systems also have an interior view of the cab to record what the driver is doing.  Adding side, rear, and cargo area cameras can provide valuable information as well as security. Our camera systems  integrate with the Geotab tracking platform for fuller functionality.

Automatic Event Recording

Vehicle cameras designed to record events are primarily used to document the conditions an event occurs.  Events may be predefined by the camera system or you can define them yourself when integrated with your vehicle tracking system.  Being selective about how many of your rules generate email notifications helps to limit unnecessary email overload.  In the same way, be selective about the rules you choose to trigger video downloads to avoid data overage. Speeding is a common rule that you may want to trigger a video download, but if you have several speed rules, choose carefully the one that triggers the video. A rule like 5 mph over the posted speed limit can trigger often and use up your data plan in a hurry.

 

Vehicle camera

Cameras with AI

Other vehicle camera systems use artificial intelligence to identify events.  They can identify speeding, lane drift, following too closely, even road obstructions.  Combined with a smartphone app, these systems give feedback to the driver to avoid potential hazards.  With an in-cab view, cameras with AI can also identify and record cell phone use and smoking events.

 

 

Live Feed

Some business models such as the Security industry may benefit from live feed capability from vehicle cameras.  Supervisors can view live video to consult with and advise the field employee. Managers can view job site progress and several jobs without leaving the office.  Live feeds need to be used responsibly.  If you forget to turn off the feed and leave for lunch, extreme data overage is the likely result.

You can see examples of video from a variety of cameras as well as installation tips on our YouTube channel.

Monitor your Data Consumption

If your system offers a feature to monitor how much data you have used, check weekly to see that you are within your data plan limits.  Becoming familiar with how much data you are using will allow you to get the most out of your vehicle camera system without incurring costly overages.

data consumption

 

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 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

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.