Types of Vehicle Tracking Systems and How They Work

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Types of Vehicle Tracking Systems and How They Work

Types of Vehicle Tracking Systems and How They Work
The number of fleet managers using different types of vehicle location systems is increasing. This is not surprising considering the immense benefits that can be gained from fleet tracking, although investments in fleet vehicle tracking systems can be quite expensive. Companies with vehicle tracking systems typically have a device connected to software in the head office where all fleet information such as location, speed, distance travelled and maintenance details is accessible to the fleet manager.

Due to the advantages that a vehicle location system can offer for fleet efficiency, these systems are becoming increasingly popular with fleet managers. The driver no longer has to equip himself with piles of cards to find his way. Instead, fleet tracking tools that help fleet operators will provide the ability to set a turn-by-turn direction to their destination. Vehicle tracking systems also help reduce delivery delays and fuel costs, which are important for fleet management.
Choosing the right type of vehicle location system

Deciding which vehicle tracking system is right for your fleet is important to ensure that you enjoy the maximum benefit of the investment. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a vehicle tracking system. Which factors are more important for your business depends largely on how many vehicles you have and how you use them. So think carefully about what is most important to your business.

There are a number of benefits to installing a tracking system in your fleet. Here are a few of them:
  • More efficient fleet management
  • Lower fuel consumption
  • Make sure you choose the best routes in a particular area for your vehicle.
  • Reduce insurance premiums and improve chances of vehicle recovery in the event of theft.
  • Increased equipment productivity
  • Predictive maintenance through vehicle condition monitoring
  • Reduction of unnecessary downtime
  • Fast emergency response
  • Personnel management
  • Driver and vehicle safety
  • Time management
  • Improve communication with customers by providing real-time information about the location of the delivery vehicle.
  • Improved customer feedback

Different types of vehicle location systems

Vehicle tracking can be divided into two main categories depending on the time of data transmission: active and passive tracking. Each has different advantages and disadvantages.

Passive vehicle tracking systems

Also known as GPS loggers, passive vehicle location systems collect data about the location of the vehicle and store it on a hard drive or memory card that you can access at a later time. To use the device, simply place it in or on the vehicle. To access the information collected by the tracker, simply connect the device to a computer. Passive systems include automatic downloads that transfer data via wireless download. After the data is extracted, the data can then be displayed in a detailed trip summary report, via an animated digital road map program, or with Google Earth, so that the user can see each location of the target vehicle, how long the target vehicle was at each stop, and much more.

With passive vehicle tracking systems, users pay only once when they purchase and install the device. For this reason, passive location systems are a common choice for fleets. Each purchase includes hardware, software and a database.

Passive tracking systems do not provide real-time tracking, which makes them unhelpful in emergencies such as traffic accidents or theft. However, this problem can easily be solved by installing additional models on the vehicle at extra cost. These additional tools allow the system to track vehicles live so that fleet managers know the speed and location of the vehicle at all times.


  • You don't have to worry about signals. Passive systems don't rely on cell towers to transfer data to some form of wireless device. Because the data is stored directly on the device, you don't have to worry about maintaining a connection to the device from a receiver. All you have to do is download the information as you wish.
  • Simple functionality. This is the simplest type of device that makes it easy to operate and learn.
  • No monthly subscription. GPS loggers do not require a monthly subscription or have running fees after purchase. This makes them more affordable than active trackers.


  • No real-time data. This means that if you wonder where the vehicle is at any given time, you will have to wait until the vehicle returns to find out. This type of device cannot help the police locate your vehicle if it is stolen.
  • Trouble. Usually you need to physically remove the device from the vehicle for every time you download the information. This can be uncomfortable for some.
  • Lack of precision. The lack of real-time data transmission also means that the delivery time is not exactly calculable. Predictions must be calculated in advance. It is much more common for the customer to receive his goods late or for the vehicle to return to base later than it should compared to active tracking systems.
  • Possible incompatibility. Some devices are not compatible with all computers and operating systems.

Active vehicle location systems collect the same data as passive location systems, but transmit the data in near real time or in real time via mobile phone or satellite networks to a computer or data center for analysis. This type of tracking system is more complex, but offers more benefits through its features, as access to information from active trackers can lead to more effective business.

To use the device, install it in the vehicle. Often it is a matter of plugging it into a port on the car. Then subscribe to a service that sends updates to your mobile phone or computer.

Mobile phone tracking. This type of vehicle tracking is the most economical system that can be set up. It uses mobile networks to transmit information about the location of the fleet. Using an app and an Internet connection, you can view the data or edit your tracking settings. The system is not entirely up to date, but the location is either transmitted every 1 to 10 minutes, depending on which subscription you have chosen. You must pay a monthly fee to use this system service.

Satellite positioning. Although the device itself and the monthly charges can be very expensive, transport and forwarding companies prefer satellite tracking because it provides detailed reports and real-time updates on company fleets and employees, even in locations where there is no mobile coverage. This means you can easily track assets anywhere in the world.


  • Real-time data. You always know where the vehicle is, not when it comes back.
  • Convenience. This system is convenient because it is not necessary to physically remove the locating device from the car and connect it to the computer.
  • No compatibility problems. You don't have to worry about whether the device works with your computer system, because you get updates over the Internet.
  • Legal assistance. The police can use this type of locator to locate a stolen vehicle.


  • Requires a subscription. To receive data from your active tracker, you must subscribe to a service. This is usually about $5 to $60 per month, depending on the model.
  • Signal sensitivity. Without a clear and strong signal, your device cannot accurately determine your location. High buildings, dense foliage, mountains and even reflective objects can cause such a problem.


In summary, passive tracking systems focus more on recording and storing tracking information that can later be downloaded from a computer, while active tracking systems transmit the same type of tracking information in real time.

One of today's many important advances is the development of real-time GPS trackers. While these trackers are relatively more expensive than trackers that do not work in real time, active tracking systems are the best option for tracking goodwill and vehicles as they provide accurate tracking information and immediate, continuous location monitoring.

Choosing an active vehicle tracking system has several advantages. The main reasons why most people prefer active tracking systems are safety and convenience. Instead of waiting to download the data to a computer (as in the case of passive tracking systems), active tracking systems do not have to wait. Since real-time GPS trackers are equipped with an app and/or software that allows a user to track a loved one or object in real time, monitoring their location is simply a matter of sitting in front of a computer or with your mobile phone in your hand. Active vehicle tracking systems, but above all, allow you to act immediately in emergencies. If your vehicles or assets are stolen, active vehicle location systems can alert you immediately and tell you the exact location.

When selecting a vehicle location system, you need to consider the current and future needs of the entire fleet. Once you have made the decision between active and passive vehicle tracking systems, your GPS shopping becomes much easier.

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