GPS tracking FAQs

If you’re new to GPS you may find this information useful for learning about GPS technology. It’s our answers to the frequently asked GPS tracking questions from customers. And if you can’t find the answer here please give us a call on 0800 438 862 or email us, we’d be pleased to help. To see more information on the affordable and versatile AVS GPS Tracking system click here.

What is GPS tracking?

GPS tracking is a way of determining the location of a vehicle, person or other asset. A GPS device is attached to, or installed into, the asset you wish to track. The device then uses the Global Positioning System to record the position of the asset at regular intervals.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information anywhere on or near earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. It allows you to track anywhere in the world, even in rugged terrain where cellphones and radios don’t work.

The recorded location data is either stored within the unit or transmitted to an internet connected computer using a cellular GPRS antenna installed with the device. AVS GPS hardware transmits to a computer allowing you to log in to the AVS Tracking website and view the information displayed against a map backdrop either in real time or looking at recorded history.

What information does the GPS device collect?

All GPS tracking devices collect three main components of information – Latitude and Longitude (which is how the device figures out the location of the asset), speed and direction.

Today most devices will also offer a host of options from collecting additional information (such as ignition on times) to monitoring temperature or water levels. Some even offer OBD/CAN-Bus information and more.

When considering what GPS device to choose we recommend focusing on what key data you would like to collect. Remember either you, or someone in your organisation, needs to be able to spend the time reviewing the data and then doing something with it to make it worthwhile gathering in the first place.

How accurate is the GPS location data from the GPS device?

Different GPS devices offer differing levels of accuracy so always ask the question. AVS GPS devices have a high level of GPS accuracy of between 5 and 10 metres or better with clear skies.

How do I access the GPS data collected? And what format is it in?

Many GPS tracking devices, including AVS trackers, transmit to a computer allowing you to log in to the provider’s GPS website and view the tracking information displayed against a map backdrop either in real time or by accessing recorded history. This gives you a great visual representation of the tracked asset’s movements and location.

However, you can’t easily follow months of GPS logs on the map and that is where reporting comes in. A good tracking company will have a range of reports to help you make sense of the tracking history. The most basic and useful report is the trip and idle report. This will tell you where a vehicle stopped and for how long over a defined period.

Note: When evaluating a GPS company make sure the reports are easy to read – if you can’t make sense of the report within 30 seconds then it’s too complicated.

AVS Tracking offers a number of easy to use, simple reports that you can download directly from the website for single or multiple trackers. Customised reporting is also available. Reports can also be set up by you to be emailed at a frequency that suits making it very user friendly.

Do I need to install GPS software on my computer?

Different GPS companies offer different software platforms and some will require you to install software on your computer. Historically this was the only option but with today’s web browser technology the best solutions are delivered online through the internet using a web browser. This technology is called Software as a Service (SaaS). The advantage with SaaS is that you can access your tracking information anywhere in the world with an internet connected computer or portable device.

With AVS Tracking you will be given a secure login for the website which can be accessed through any internet connected PC or Apple Mac. You will be able to access live view as well as tracking data and you can download reports directly from the website. Different admin levels can be set if required and multiple trackers are all shown on one map. The other advantage with AVS Tracking is that regular system updates and upgrades are handled remotely and free of charge so you always have the latest GPS solution at your fingertips.

Can I access tracking data from my smart phone or tablet?

Another thing to think about with modern technology is whether or not you want to be able to see your GPS devices from your smart phone or portable device. Not all GPS providers offer this service.

When you login to AVS Tracking from a smart phone or tablet the system will automatically switch to the mobile application. This simplified version of the website speeds up access when using mobile data.

Are there ongoing costs?

Yes, most real time GPS tracking companies charge a monthly service fee. The fee will vary depending on what features are being provided and whether the data used by the tracker is also included. AVS Tracking has a relatively low monthly service fee and there is no fixed contract term when the hardware is purchased outright.

How will GPS tracking benefit my business?

Being able to locate and track your vehicles, machinery or other assets, as well as collect additional information, offers a huge advantage to any business whether you are using one, multiple or hundreds of tracking devices.

Our experience has shown that most business owners and managers find out some pretty useful information within the first couple of months and with the benefit of the data can quickly and easily improve efficiencies within the business.

Some of the most common improvements we see are:

  • Reduced fuel bills and lower mileage on company vehicles
  • Better vehicle management through over speed and stop address reporting
  • Improved staff efficiencies
  • Improved customer and sales service
  • Improved customer dispute resolution

What about if the GPS tracker is for your own car?

Insurance companies are now beginning to require GPS tracking devices on high-risk vehicles and this trend is increasing. Plus if you have an alarm on your vehicle, AVS trackers, can send an alert notification text if the alarm is triggered. This offers such a valuable advantage in helping to keep your vehicle safe.

If you have a family car GPS tracking can be a great way to monitor the family vehicle. Being able to see when and where the vehicle is and receive over speed alerts etc can make driving a safer experience for everyone.

What about some of the really cheap GPS devices I can buy online and track myself?

Not all GPS tracking devices are created equal and cheaper hardware is usually made form poor quality parts and poorly developed and unreliable firmware. And while in theory you may able to track it yourself what happens when it doesn’t work? We recommend you choose a GPS provider that is an established New Zealand based business with a proven support and warranty process.

My car is off the road at the moment, what happens with my security system?

Devices powered by your vehicle (such as a car alarm or GPS tracker) will not work if the car battery is flat. It is important to understand that any car security system requires power to operate. While GPS trackers and most car alarms can run for a few days without power they will then cease to operate (although the alarm will keep the car immobilised if it is an AS/NZS certified alarm). We strongly recommend the vehicle is driven regularly, or the use of a trickle (or maintenance) charger, to help keep your security system in good working order.

What is a GPS locator?

A GPS locator does not record regular position updates, it will only log its position on command. Simply send a TXT to the tracker and it will TXT back its’ location. Some GPS locators will send GPS co-ordinates (Latitude and Longitude) which can then be entered into Google to bring up a map.

There is usually no monthly service fee with a GPS locator which makes them an affordable option. However it is important to remember that locators do not record any GPS history. If the GPS locator is removed by a thief before you realise your asset is missing there is no way to track it.

Limitations of GPS tracking

GPS tracking is not invincible and no GPS hardware will be able to guarantee position logs 100% of the time. GPS devices rely on being able to communicate with the satellites in space and so in highly built up areas or underground carparks reception can be blocked.

Another limitation is GPS bouncing or drifting. This is when the location fix seems to ‘bounce’ around on the map even though the asset is in one place. It tends to happen if the asset is located in an insulated area such as a carpark or garage and is something that can affect all GPS devices to varying degrees.

If text alerts are part of the GPS system you decide on it is also important to remember that although the system may send a text immediately delivery depends on the performance of the GSM providers. There may be delays depending on the load and service level of the GSM network at that time.

Sometimes thieves will locate the device and remove or unplug the device or the antenna to prevent it from tracking (or even use illegal GPS jammers). Many GPS trackers have measures in place that detect tamper or power loss in the device.