A vehicle tracking system is very useful for large corporations that have fleets of vehicles moving across distant areas. The shipping industry has a similar tracking system that it uses to keep track of ships on the high seas. Even ordinary cars nowadays are equipped with this to discourage theft and aid in retrieval. The police can simply follow the signal emitted by the tracking system and locate the stolen vehicle.
Most vehicle tracking systems are basically electronic devices that are installed in vehicles and allow the drivers or third parties to track the location of a vehicle. These devices use GPS modules for easy and accurate tracking of vehicles. Many do not even require the GPS antenna to be in direct line of sight with the sky.
Some systems also combine a cellular or a satellite transmitter so that there can be communication between the vehicle and the remote user. The latter can view the vehicle's information on an electronic map via the Internet or specialized software.
There are two major vehicle tracking devices: passive and active. The passive devices collect data for later analysis. They simply store information like GPS location, speed and heading. The data can be downloaded to a computer at the end of the journey and evaluated. This system does not work well for commercial vehicles where there is a need to monitor vehicles while they are on the move. Two companies that offer passive vehicle tracking devices are TrackStick and TravelEyes.
Active devices, on the other hand, are operational at all points of time. They collect the same data as the passive systems but what they do additionally is transmit them real time via a cellular or a satellite network to a data centre for evaluation. The centre can monitor the vehicle and in some cases even maintain communication with it. Examples of companies that offer active devices are TrackYourTruck and Verizon Wireless.
This system’s potential as an anti-theft device has now resulted in it being made an integrated part of the multi-layered approach to vehicle protection, recommended by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The Crime Bureau claims that it is very effective in letting the police track the vehicle.
Some of these systems can be integrated with other systems; for instance, an automatic alert to a phone or email can be sent if an alarm is triggered off or the vehicle is moved without authorization.