Where is it? Where was it? Where is it going? These are just a few of the many questions that can be answered with three letters – G.P.S.
GPS (Global Positioning System) is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed from 24 satellites in orbit and their respective ground stations. The system is mainly funded and controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense. What’s interesting is that today we rely on satellites to provide us all this information in order to track vehicles and assets here on Earth, but originally it was earthbound humans tracking a satellite in space that led to today’s Global Positioning System.
The basics behind GPS were first discovered back in 1957 when two American physicists discovered that by tracking the Doppler effect on the Soviets’ recently launched Sputnik satellite, they could precisely pinpoint where the satellite was in its orbit.
The U.S. military designed and built the original GPS, but today there are also many civilian GPS users. Civilians are allowed to use the Standard Positioning Service without any kind of charge or restrictions, while the military now maintains its own GPS. The accuracy of the GPS signal in space is actually the same for both the civilian service and the military service. However, civilian GPS broadcasts on one frequency, while the military’s version of GPS broadcasts on two, allowing the military to perform a correction technique that reduces radio degradation caused by the Earth's atmosphere. This allows the military’s version of GPS to provide them with greater accuracy. In both cases, however, accuracy has steadily increased over the years and today, the civilian version of GPS provides accuracy within 4 meters with a 95% confidence interval.
How Synovia Uses GPS
With GPS, Synovia is able to help our clients keep track of their vehicles and assets by simply installing our tracking devices on their equipment. Our tracking devices send out specific signals on specific frequencies so we can lock in on each one individually. This allows us to track thousands upon thousands of individual vehicles and assets all across the country.
These tracking devices come in two basic forms: one for non-motorized equipment and one for motorized equipment. Trackers designed for non-motorized equipment have an internal battery that lasts 5 to 7 years. These trackers can be used as a more basic unit for motorized equipment, but they are designed to be used with non-motorized equipment such as dumpsters, portable classrooms, portable toilets, trailers, furniture, and computer equipment.
These tracking devices automatically send a location signal at least once a day, but can be adjusted to have a signal sent as often as you need. Sometimes it’s simply overkill to have a tracker send a signal too many times in one day, but other fleet managers want constant contact – and Synovia can give it to you.
You can even adjust frequency based on the situation. At Synovia we had one instance in which a client had a Bobcat worth about $40,000 go missing, and when they contacted us we increased the number of times the tracker “checked in” to every 15 minutes. More frequent signals allowed us to track down where the Bobcat had been taken and alert the local authorities, who then retrieved the Bobcat and were able to take several suspects into custody.
You can also set non-motorized asset trackers to alert you when your property is outside a predetermined geo-fence. Positional updates will then continue every five minutes until the asset is returned.
Asset trackers can also be used with motorized equipment. These trackers are connected to your equipment’s battery and send a location signal every 30 seconds. They also monitor engine usage for maintenance or billing purposes. They are weatherproof and will recharge their internal battery whenever the asset is active – so downtime is never an issue. These trackers work for all self-powered assets, such as backhoes, generators, lawn mowers, power washers, skidsteers, snow blowers and tractors.
Asset tracking is a terrific tool for businesses to use. It's like having your own personal security guard right there on site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it's all thanks to two American scientists who simply wanted to keep track of a beach ball-sized satellite that was flying around in outer space.