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How Real-Time GPS Can Fail

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Understanding GPS Tracking Device Limitations

satellite_technologyThere are hundreds of reasons why families, companies and government entities move forward with investment in real-time tracker systems. This is because tracking systems can be used for almost any personal monitoring application from observation of driving habits to auto-theft security enhancement. Although real-time tracker systems have a number of advantageous features that include documentation of addresses departed or arrived, speed a motorist had driven and real-time alerting, people who invest in real-time GPS systems must understand that even though the technology is great it is not perfect. This is because every form of technology will have some form of limitations, and this article will address some of those limitations associated with GPS tracking systems.

Breaking Down Tracker System Limitations

1. Cellular Coverage Is Important

Most people think that consumer and business grade tracking systems only work off of satellites orbiting out in space. Although it is true that positional and locational data is acquired from signals sent by satellites in space, the recorded GPS data stored on the tracker is transmitted through cell towers to a computer server. It is with the assistance of this computer server that users can see their personal GPS tracking system data with a smart phone, tablet or home computer. Therefore, if a person is using a real-time system such as the SilverCloud GPS in a region where no cellular coverage is present, the unit won’t be able to send any real-time data. Basically, the GPS won’t work.

*Tracking System Direct real-time trackers use AT&T wireless for cellular data transmission.

2. Metal & Concrete

Navigation and tracking systems that use GPS all adhere to the same principles. That is because GPS signals for navigation systems are the same signals for tracking systems. GPS signals can penetrate plastic, fiberglass and glass. However, metal and concrete are two materials GPS signals cannot penetrate. That means if a person places a GPS vehicle tracker inside the trunk of a automobile the device will likely not be able to acquire a GPS signal. This is why users of GPS systems need to think long and hard about where the intend on placing their tracker on a target vehicle.

3. The Criminal Mind

When a car theft prevention tool called “The Club” made its way to the market motorists everywhere thought they had finally out-smarted automobile thieves. Well, it wasn’t long before car thieves began removing the steering wheel in order to steal a car they wanted. Real-time GPS tracker systems are great tools for quickly recovering stolen vehicles. However, if a car thief knows or assumes that a vehicle they want to steal is equipped with a tracker system they may search for a GPS before they steal the automobile. If they find it they can easily tamper with or damage the tracker system. Although it shouldn’t have to be mentioned, but if a criminal looks for a real-time tracker on a vehicle, finds the tracker system and destroys the device, the system will not work.

4. A Bad Connection

People that use real-time trackers often hard-wire the GPS to the target vehicle, then activate the system only if the car it is equipped upon is stolen. This allows the person to avoid paying the monthly service fees associated with real-time trackers up until the time they actually need to recover a vehicle. With that said, if a person hard-wires the GPS incorrectly, the tracker system will drain power and be useless most likely within a couple weeks. Therefore, when they try to activate the device nothing will happen.

One way to avoid this is to have the tracker system activated once the GPS is hard-wired. That will help ensure the tracker was properly connected. Please note that it is also highly recommended that the GPS is installed by a professional.

GPS trackers are one of the most efficient surveillance tools a person can use to improve safety and fleet efficiency. However, the technology is not flawless, and people should be aware of some of the limitations associated with real-time systems before investment in such equipment.