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How Accurate Is Vehicle Tracking Using GPS – 2019 Guide

How Accurate Is GPS Tracking?

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Global Positioning Systems, or GPS as they are commonly referred to, have become part of everyday travel in the UK. GPS technology is used in both satellite navigation systems and vehicle tracking devices.

However, anyone who's used a satellite navigation system can probably recall a time when the technology was not entirely accurate, had no signal or could not locate an address. So, can the same be said about vehicle tracking? Let's examine the facts.

High Accuracy GPS Vehicle Tracking

Vehicle tracking works on the basis of GPS technology. At any moment in time, there are at least four satellites orbiting the earth which transmit a constant time and location signal. The vehicle tracker picks up this signal and is able to calculate its exact latitude and longitude.

This information is then sent via a mobile phone network to a secure remote location or user where the location of the vehicle is displayed on a mapping system. The whole process only takes a few seconds and multiple vehicles can be displayed on one system.

How Accurate Is GPS?

The vast majority of vehicle trackers can pinpoint the location of a car or van to a three metre radius. Some systems are even more accurate and have just a one metre radius, yet even the ability to track a vehicle to within three metres is widely regarded as impressive.

What Can Affect GPS Accuracy?

The accuracy of GPS tracking can be affected by various factors. These include the quality of your GPS receiver- so if high accuracy GPS is important to you, you might consider investing in a very high quality tracking device.

Other factors are the position of the satellites at the time the recording was made, characteristics of the landscape where the vehicle is, and the weather. GPS tracking data can be compromised by:

  • high buildings
  • tree cover
  • being in a valley or surrounded by hills
  • being in a tunnel or garage

Operating in low GPS signal areas can compromise GPS tracking. As a result, GPS trackers may not be able to emit a signal to satellites for the duration of the vehicle operating within low signal areas. Consequently, this may hamper the accuracy of the tracking. Fortunately, GPS tracking technology is becoming more sophisticated, with both the satellites and the receivers creating stronger and less susceptible connections.

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Business Benefits of Accurate GPS Tracking

Vehicle tracking has many benefits for a business, some of which are brought about by knowing where a vehicle is at any given time. Two of these advantages include:

  • Fleet Coordination - Knowing where your vehicles are will bring peace of mind to any fleet manager or business owner. But for some businesses, the advantages of real time fleet pinpointing go beyond this. Taxi companies and courier services will be able to dispatch the nearest driver when a call comes in. Delivery services will be able to tell their customers exactly when their parcel is due for delivery, and can update them quickly about any changes such as if the driver is stuck in traffic.
  • Solving Claims Disputes - Being able to track a vehicle accurately with GPS lets you know if a vehicle was involved in any unauthorised activities. Disputes which can be solved by analysing high accuracy GPS tracking data include whether or not a vehicle was speeding, and if it was on the assigned route. This can help determine who is responsible for traffic violations.

▶ Find out more: Van fleet management

How GPS Technology is Used in Vehicle Tracking Devices

Vehicle tracking systems work by locating vehicles in real time through GPS signals emitted from a receiver. This receiver then locates the GPS satellite network and calculates in own position. The location is then then displayed on a computer which can be accessed remotely.

Once the location of the GPS receiver has been accurately identified, tracker software can display the receiver's position on a map. For example, a courier company that has installed a GPS receiver into one of their vehicles could location the exact position of one of their delivery vans from their main office. At any time the company will be able to locate their vehicle. Of course, there is the opportunity for several vehicle locations to be displayed on one computer program.

The best GPS vehicle tracking systems are extremely reliable and accurate but businesses must be careful in selecting those systems that will work best with their fleet operations.

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The Future of Vehicle Tracking

Over the past few years, we have become almost reliant on high accuracy GPS to track vehicles and navigate. The demand for the technology means the future is likely to bring even further technological advancements. It is likely we will see more GPS satellites orbiting the Earth to make pinpointing the location of a vehicle even more accurate and areas where the signal is weak or intermittent are also likely to be improved.

Vehicle tracking devices are accurate to an impressive degree. Most users would agree that the ability to track a vehicle to within three metres from a remote location is more than adequate.

Next Steps

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