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

In-Cab Video Data Management

Data File Size

Be careful what you change to avoid expensive data overage fees

Controlling Costs

Understanding how camera settings impact your video quality and monthly cost will ensure you find a balance between the two. In general, the default settings have been found to be the best for the average customer. Changing these can increase your cost exponentially so be careful. In-cab video (ICV) is all about data transfer cost. The smaller the video files and the fewer you transmit, the less chance there is for expensive overage fees. These variables also determine how much data can be stored on the SD card in a looping memory. If you normally get 300 hours of recordings, you would only get 150 if you double the size of the data files. Learn more

File Sizes

There are 3 primary variables that impact the data volume used from the monthly data plan. Testing should be done on 1 camera before making changes to all to avoid expensive overage fees.

 

  1. Frame-rate-per second (fps) – The number of images that are captured per second. 7 fps is about what the eye can see. Moving this to 14 fps will double the data being transmitted and consume more of your data plan.
  2. Resolution – The quality of the images captured can make a big difference in the file size. This impacts the data transmitted as well. A standard resolution image is often good enough and produces a file of 2 megs. Going to HD might make the same file 8 megs or 400% more data.
  3. Exception settings – Video exceptions should be for the most important exceptions only. Exceptions such as accident detection or movement after-hours should produce video clips. Creating video exceptions for speeding events could create an excessive amount of exception videos that have no real value. Each in-cab video deducts from your data bucket so choose wisely. If you opted for the live streaming service, leave some data available to stream a few times per month without going over your data plan.

 

Live Video

Live video is an option for some in-cab camera systems. This enables a user online to “see” through the camera and view in the cab or outside the vehicle. This can be handy in specific applications but it consumes a lot of data. Live streaming should be limited to special situations or spot checking. Live streaming cannot be run continuously due to the cost so most cameras timeout after 60 seconds. You can then enable it over and over if needed.

SD Cards

The in-cab video cameras contain an SD card to store video continuously. The number of hours that can be recorded depends on the above variables as well as the size of the SD card itself. 64 gig cards hold a lot of data. If you use a slow or smaller SD card you can run into issues. If an event is not captured as an exception video clip, the SD card can be inserted into a computer and the looping video reviewed to find a particular date and time.

Learn More

Fleet Privacy Mode

Fleet Privacy Mode

Privacy Mode Mobile View

Privacy Mode Mobile App
The Privacy Feature will be implemented in phases and will improve over time.

Privacy Mode in Geotab

 

Fleet Privacy Mode is a feature that allows drivers and dispatchers to freely stop driving activity for selected vehicles from appearing in user interface and API. Privacy Mode is intended for market-specific instances that require the driver to have optional intervals of privacy, such as when using a work vehicle for personal time or taking a work vehicle home at night. Many municipal agencies offer take home vehicles yet need to keep the employees general home private.

With PM enabled, information related to the vehicles position, speed, and engine data will not be processed as usual. Driving data created by a vehicle in PM will be marked as private when being stored into a Geotab database. Any such data cannot be viewed in online or extracted from the API using normal means. In circumstances like accident events, the manufacturer can extract private data for a vehicle to assist with event reconstruction, provided Geotab is given permission to access this data. Prior to granting such permission to Geotab, the customer must ensure they have received all necessary consents from the driver of the vehicle in question.

Privacy Mode is currently a beta feature. As a beta feature, Privacy Mode is still undergoing development and may have a number of bugs related to reports, the map, the rules engine, and other parts of the fleet management system. Customers can request to participate in beta service but there is no support provided to resolve issues.  Learn more about the GO System.

Fleet Privacy Mode Trip

The Trips History page will indicate any trips made in Privacy Mode with an icon and the title Private trip. Trip data can be set to remain private for a period of time of totally excluded from the customer account.

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

How Much Does a Sherp Cost?

How Much Does a Sherp Cost?

So you want to know how much a Sherp costs

 

As with most vehicles, the price varies with options. For a business, the Sherp ATV is an investment in an asset just like buying a tractor-trailer, backhoe or building. Before investing in a Sherp you should define the intended use and the projected return on investment. You have to remember to budget for maintenance which fortunately is as low as any diesel power vehicle available. If you are considering a Sherp ATV for personal and recreational use, none of this matters just buy one, they are a lot of fun. Click here for Sherp ATV Sales.

 

There are two models of Sherps, the pickup, and the pro. The pickup has a removable back cover and an interior wall behind the front 1seats with a large window which opens to the back. There is an internal roll bar system that obstructs seating on the wheel wells in the back. The role bars are easily removed to free up the seating and to improve space management when the top is off the back. This flexibility can be important to special applications. Removing the top during a search and rescue mission enables people to enter and exit in various directions from the back, listen, call out and view the surrounding area for survivors, etc. The Sherp ATV Pro has an exterior roll cage and the back cannot be removed. There is no interior wall between the cab and rear area giving the appearance of more room but usable space is about the same.

 

The Sherp cost is about the same between the pickup and the Pro. The Pro starts about $125,000 because of netting, Molly strapping, and demand for the Pro model in vast very cold environments like the Canadian oil fields. The other consideration is a trailer to transport the Sherp ATV since it is not street legal. A custom Sherp trailer is available. It is lightweight and designed specifically for the Sherp to drive up on and be pulled by a typical SUV. If you want to carry other gear you will need a large trailer with ramps and spare room for tools and gear. 

 

Another investment consideration is an amphibious trailer which is pulled by the Sherp. This increases the amount of gear that can be carried in most conditions. These trailers run about $8,000 but are essential for large-scale disaster response such as Hurricane Michael, Hurrican Florence or Hurrican Harvey.