Most people think that GPS is the only technology involved in fleet tracking. They are wrong, because there are a lot of associated and related wireless technologies that help in fleet tracking. These technologies help get more data for your tracking and management needs. What are these technologies?
Near-Field Communication (NFC)
You may have heard about near-field communication when you talk about Google Wallet and a slew of other mobile payment services out there. Near-field communication is big in the mobile payment industry as it provides you with a way to pay for purchases using a smartphone with an NFC chip embedded on it and a mobile app that stores your financial details. The sell is that instead of counting up your cash or swiping your credit card, you only have to tap your smartphone on a terminal and you will be able to pay for your purchases.
What is near-field communication? Near-field communication is a set of standards that uses short range radio signals to transmit information between two devices. It is a close cousin of RFID or radio-frequency identification. Aside from mobile wallets, near-field communication has also been used by passengers to pay train and bus fares. Other uses of near-field communication include:
- Social uses. Social uses include tapping your NFC smartphone on a new acquaintance’s likewise NFC-enabled smartphone in order to exchange contact details, videos, photos, mp3s, files and even Facebook and Twitter profiles.
- Smartphone automation. Near-field communication comes with NFC tags that you could program in order to automate your smartphone. For instance, you could put an NFC tag in your car so that when you get in, your phone would connect to your vehicle’s connected car system via Bluetooth. An NFC tag on your desk at work could also automatically switch your phone to silent mode.
- Access. You can also use near-field communication for keyless entries. For example, there are now NFC locks available that allow you to open your door using your smartphone and you would no longer need to rummage through your bag to get the keys. You can also use near-field communication to store your access credentials on your phone so that you would not need to use a keypass or a card pass to enter sensitive areas in the office.
- Wireless connections. You can use near-field communication to make it easier to pair your devices via Bluetooth. Instead of going through several steps in order to successfully pair two devices, you only tap your phone to an NFC tag that will handle Bluetooth pairing. Furthermore, you can use NFC tags to let people connect to your Wi-Fi connection, so that they would not need to know your password.
With fleet management, NFC could be used on your driver IDs. Once your driver gets on board his vehicle, he would need to tap his ID to connect to the satellite and Internet, as well as transmit his identification and credentials to your system. This way, you can track your drivers’ behaviours even if they use different vehicles. In fact, you really do not need a driver’s ID anymore, you could just use his Android smartphone to do the task.
QR codes are an early entrant into the wireless tech space. QR codes work like traditional barcodes with two very important differences. For one, it looks like a pixelated box that can contain more information than the standard bar code with its series of vertical lines and, two, you would need to scan it with a reader in order to decode the information. By reader, we mean a smartphone with a camera and a QR code scanning application installed on it.
QR codes right now are most closely associated with sales and marketing. It is everywhere, with companies putting QR codes on their marketing materials, brochures, business cards, flyers, stores, billboard ads and even clothing. One scan and it will take you to the relevant content that the company is trying to sell. For example, a company might put a QR code on its direct mails. When you scan these QR codes, you might be taken to the company’s Web site or that product’s online page where you could learn more about the product, see photos of it or even watch a video on how to use the product. But the most important thing is that that page would allow you to buy the product right on your smartphone. A QR code can contain anything from videos to photos and even URL links.
But QR codes have been around since the 1990s and it was first used as a way to track vehicle parts. In the same way that you could track your cargoes and, to an extent, your fleet. You can just scan the QR codes on your cargoes and your vehicles instead of manually logging these information. This way, the whole process is faster and error-free!
Wi-Fi is a networking protocol that is wireless. Meaning, you can connect to it without needing to attach cables to your devices. For most people, it is a way to get on the Internet without wires and cords, making it very convenient to move around with your devices.
When it comes to fleet management, you can use a GPS tracker or you can use Wi-Fi to do the same. A Wi-Fi positioning system makes use of several Wi-Fi access spots in order to determine your vehicle’s location. Aside from access points, it also makes use of cell phone towers and GPS to help with the triangulation, thereby coming up with your location.
Wi-Fi positioning systems might suffer from a lack of accuracy owing to the fluctuating Wi-Fi signals and things that could block a clear signal, such as buildings and noise. Aside from determining location, Wi-Fi is also very useful in tracking your fleet right from the vehicle itself, being able to send location data with an Internet connection.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows you to transmit and exchange data over short distances. But unlike other wireless technologies, Bluetooth allows you to connect several devices at once.
In fleet tracking, Bluetooth technology is used to gather location data from the GPS. This is good for offline data logging wherein the Bluetooth device would automatically keep track of all the location data from the GPS and then logs it. To view the data, you would need to download it and see the completed route on a map.
Now you have an idea of how wireless technologies aid in fleet tracking systems.