Vehicle tracking systems are now a part of everyday life for almost all individuals, who appreciate them for the reliable routes they allow to calculate in near real time. But these consumer applications are nothing compared to the functionalities offered by vehicle geolocation solutions for businesses. In some sectors, such as taxis or TNCs and road freight transport, the geolocation of vehicle fleets has led to a real revolution. By enabling fleet managers to know where vehicles are and what they are transporting at any time and by transmitting a flow of data that is essential for day-to-day business, these systems provide a series of significant benefits to professionals.
How do these systems work? What are the different technologies on the market? What are these benefits? How much do these solutions cost? Finally, what is the legal framework regulating their use?
Vehicle tracking systems: principle and functioning
Vehicle tracking systems allow not only the driver of a vehicle to know its geographical position at any time, but they also allow a supervisor to access various data on any given vehicle, wherever it is. Several technologies allow car tracking for professional purposes.
Vehicle tracking systems: to find and to be found
Vehicle tracking makes it possible to know at any time, in near real time, where vehicles equipped with geolocation devices are located.
Initially designed for military use exclusively, geolocation is now part of the daily life of individuals and professionals.
Tracking systems for private use are generally only used to find out where the user is on a map and to calculate a route to his or her destination. But there are also applications to locate a stolen computer, or a pet, a child or an elderly person equipped with a GPS tracker.
This functionality is at the heart of professional systems, which allows a remote supervisor to know the geographical position of vehicles equipped with geolocation systems. These systems also sometimes allow two-way communication between the equipped vehicle and the supervisor, even allowing the supervisor in some cases to act directly on the equipped vehicle. Finally, these systems transmit much more than geographical positions, especially when they are equipped with modules connected to different mechanical components of the vehicle.
There are therefore many applications for professionals: navigation aids, tracking of goods, vehicle tracking after a theft, tracking of workers (truck drivers, sales representatives, dependent people, mobile workers, etc.).
Different vehicle tracking systems for different operating modes
Different technologies exist to make vehicle tracking possible, with varying accuracy and range:
- The GPS tracking system is the most widespread. Using a GPS tracker, the device connects to the satellite network to find out its location. The data is then transmitted to the driver and/or supervisor, usually via mobile cellular networks.
- The tracking system can also be completely based on mobile telephone networks, by triangulation between the different transmitters, by calculating the arrival time or angle of arrival of the signal, or by using the cell identifier.
- RFID geolocation is another technology mainly used for tracking in confined spaces, to locate goods in a warehouse for example.
- Other technologies can be used, such as geolocation by Wifi or geolocation by IP address.
Advantages prices of vehicle tracking systems
The many advantages of vehicle geolocation, both in terms of optimising fleet management and in terms of savings or safety, should be seen in the context of ever-diminishing costs.
Advantages of vehicle tracking
Vehicle tracking systems offer many benefits for drivers, supervisors and customers of companies using these systems. Directly or indirectly, the geolocation of company cars or heavy goods vehicles of transport companies provides them with better safety, better fleet management and savings:
- In terms of safety, geolocation makes it possible above all to fight against vehicle theft, but also against theft of goods;
- In addition, the various information reported on these systems like speed or sudden braking, helps to make driving safer. If the tracker is equipped with the necessary modules, key points are monitored such as the temperature of different critical engine elements or tire pressure, thus improving overall vehicle safety. In all cases, alerts can be put in place when certain critical thresholds are reached, for the driver, supervisor or both. Sometimes, the supervisor may even use the geolocation system to shut down the vehicle's engine;
- In terms of fleet management, the entire activity is optimized. A taxi operator will be able to assign the vehicle closest to the customer who orders a trip. A road transport company will be able to select the best delivery strategy according to the different warehouses, garages and delivery points.
- This optimization of fleet management generates economic benefits. First, because working time is optimised and "troughs" are identified: productivity is increasing. Secondly, because the journeys are optimised and therefore faster. Thirdly, as these journeys are optimised and as drivers whose driving has been identified as sub-optimal can benefit from eco-driving training, fuel consumption is reduced. Savings on fuel costs can represent up to 20% of the monthly invoice;
- It also lowers insurance premium;
- Finally, these devices reassure customers and improve customer satisfaction, which is always a source of additional revenue!
Price of vehicle geolocation
The price of geolocation systems depends on how advanced the systems are in terms of hardware, software and related services. These three essential components are generally offered in an all-inclusive package, which makes it easier to market in the form of monthly subscriptions, which also have the advantage of reducing the initial investment. Nevertheless, it is still possible for advanced users to build their own systems by purchasing the hardware and selecting the software that they consider most suitable.
In these cases, and if this technology is adopted, the price of a GPS tracker can vary between 80 euros and more than 600 euros. The factors influencing the price are:
- The autonomy of the beacons, some systems can be connected to the vehicle's battery,
- Real-time data transmission or local recording only,
- The presence or absence of modules to connect the system to the vehicle's electronic control centre,
- The size of the system and its mounting methods.
In all cases, it will be necessary to add to the price of the equipment, rented or purchased, one or more specific subscriptions for the transfer of data to the supervision system, by mobile cellular networks.
Finally, software or business applications can be obtained separately and are invoiced either by monthly subscription or on a commission basis, or both.
In order to obtain a detailed pricing corresponding to the specific needs of each customer, it is necessary to request quotes in tracking systems.
As the tracking of vehicles represents an increasingly crowded market, services such as Companeo are particularly useful in obtaining these quotes simply and comparing the best providers of vehicle tracking solutions for professionals.
As vehicle tracking systems transmit and store data that may be of a personal nature, and may constitute intrusive surveillance systems, their use is strictly regulated by a series of legal or regulatory provisions. These provisions define the prohibited uses of these systems, the rights of employees and the procedures for storing data. In any case, it is essential to know that the employer is responsible for being in compliance with these rules, both by his company and by the tools themselves, as they have been designed.
The potential of vehicle geolocation solutions is so extensive that it has been necessary for the legislator to limit their authorized uses.
It is therefore prohibited to use it for any of the following purpose:
- Checking compliance with speed limits,
- Control of working time if other arrangements are in place,
- Any type of control of any employee outside working hours, including commuting to and from work, even if it is to protect against theft.
Employees also have certain rights when it comes to installing and using vehicle tracking systems for the vehicles they use to carry out their missions.
In particular, they must:
- Be informed of the installation of these systems in accordance with specific procedures, and must be told the objectives of data collection, the legal basis, the rights of opposition, the duration of data storage and the procedures for access, rectification and complaint,
- Be able to refuse their installation,
- To have access to the recorded data concerning them on request,
- Be able to disable these systems when their working time is up.
Data retention is limited in time and access.
A data protection officer, if there is one in the company, must be involved in setting up the systems.
Regarding access to data, a strict policy must be put in place and a register must also be kept up to date.
In principle, data should only be kept for a period of two months, or at most one year if they are to be kept for proof or service optimisation purposes.