Understanding vehicle tracking in South Africa

How vehicle tracking works in South Africa

Vehicle tracking has come a long way globally and it has a great history on where it started and where it is heading, you can read some of it here.

Fleet management has become an essential part of the day to day activities on South African roads, not just South Africa but the whole of Africa because of the increasing security risk on our roads. When your fleet is active the chances are every one of your vehicles in South Africa will be touched by crime at some stage during its lifespan.

To understand vehicle tracking here is a quick explanation on how it works:

How does vehicle tracking work?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) network consists of 27 global positioning satellites orbiting around the earth (24 operational plus 3 backup satellites in case one of the tracking satellites fail). To ensure that the whole world is covered by the constellation of the GPS satellites, the satellites are arranged in a way that four satellites are always positioned in each of six orbital planes. Companies in Russia has Also sent up satellites to do Tracking and their system is called GLONASS, these days most tracking devices can use both systems to accurately track their position

Each satellite transmits radio signals, it is similar to a time stamp and their position, that are processed by the GPS receiver in your car. While just one satellite can’t help configure where you’re at, three or four can help determine your location, direction of travel and travel speed. This is done using a mathematical principle called trilateration. In order to trilaterate, the GPS receiver must know that your location is to be traced by at least three satellites circling above. It also must know the distance between your location and each of those satellites. By comparing the locations of each satellite and your distance from each, and repeating this equation over and over, the GPS vehicle tracking system then configures your location, direction of travel, and travel speed, thus making it possible to track your vehicle for fleet managers.

The type of GPS tracking system you have dictates what happens next. If you have a passive GPS, it will store data until it is retrieved from the vehicle, these systems are very cheap and actually a bad system to use because data can only be seen once it is removed from the physical vehicle. If you have an active GPS, it will transmit the information to a central server connected to the Internet or central computer, thereby providing real-time information on you vehicle’s activities and this is the way most GPS tracking devices work today.

Although all of that information about how auto vehicle tracking systems work might seem incredibly complex and confusing, it all happens in a fraction of a second, so you can have instant data on any vehicle. So the owner of a business might utilize GPS  fleet tracking to monitor employees making deliveries to ensure they are staying on their pre-determined routes. GPS vehicle tracking can also be used to monitor ignition-based starts and stops (to make sure employees are working when they say they are), vehicle mileage, aggressive driving, excessive idling and much more. Our vehicle tracking systems also allow you to lock or unlock doors, disable or enable the starter, or even honk the horn.

The big players in South Africa

There are a few big companies in South Africa, one of them started very early and used the old Beeper system to relay vehicles positions past specific beacons in built up areas. These beacons are street corners and well known land marks and they up to today still use this tracking system for stolen vehicle recovery. When a vehicle is stolen for this system to work they have to send up a helicopter to go to the last beacon that triggered the vehicles whereabouts because if the vehicle is stationary and does not pass a next beacon it will not be traceable. So in the Helicopter they have a beacon named “helicopter” and then flies around in that area, simulating the movement of the vehicle till they receive a message back from the device ,showing helicopter, and that is how they get your car back.

Most other companies got on the GPS/GSM based vehicle tracking fro early in the 90s and has grown gradually into vehicle tracking empires due to the growth in this security industry in Africa. Everyday thieves are finding new ways to steal vehicle related products and fleet management companies have to keep up with them. Making South Africa one of the leaders in the vehicle and asset tracking industries. From immobilizing vehicles via sms to live monitoring fuel levels with fuel theft via sms to even triggering gas or paint bombs via sms on load theft and cargo break-ins.

The industry is a great and growing industry in Africa, and we are glad to be a part of it.