MyGeotab Version 1903 Coming Soon to your MyGeotab UI
Let’s take a look at some of the newest features and revisions.
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?
The 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.
Beginning on December 18, 2017, a driver using an ELD must have an ELD information packet onboard the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) containing the following items:
A user’s manual for the driver describing how to operate the ELD;
An instruction sheet describing the data transfer mechanisms supported by the ELD and step-by-step instructions to produce and transfer the driver’s hours-of-service records to an authorized safety official;
An instruction sheet for the driver describing ELD malfunction reporting requirements and recordkeeping procedures during ELD malfunctions; and
A supply of blank driver’s records of duty status (RODS) graph-grids sufficient to record the driver’s duty status and other related information for a minimum of 8 days.
The problem with a paper manual is keeping it up to date as the rules and technology changes. FMCSA has acknowledged in their FAQ that electronic documents meet their requirements.
What’s the Solution?
Never worry about having the required in vehicle documents, updates, and training again. Just install the free ELD info add-in from the Geotab Marketplace. You drivers can access it from their dashboard in Geotab Drive. The add-in includes direct links to the latest versions of the required documents listed above (except for the paper logs required in the event of ELD malfunction). It also has training videos, important contacts, announcements about updates to the app and workflow documents. The add-in is absolutely free, but you must access the Marketplace from your MyGeotab account to install it.
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.
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 offertake 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.
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.
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 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 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 (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
Vehicle location and speed data. Where an asset went, where it stopped and how long it was there.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The frequency which the GPS tracker logs the position of the asset. This varies from a few seconds to once per day.
The rate at which the log data collected is transmitted to a cellular or satellite communication tower.
The rate at which the website refreshes and displays newly received log data.
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