GPS tracking has rapidly become a staple in navigation, location services, and monitoring applications in our modern world. With its widespread use in smartphones, vehicles, and various industries, it’s crucial to understand the overall accuracy of this prominent technology.
Today we’re going to discuss and review the factors that determine GPS tracking accuracy, the accuracy levels of different GPS tracking devices, and how to improve the accuracy of GPS tracking.
What is GPS Tracking?
GPS tracking, or Global Positioning System tracking, is a technology that uses a network of satellites to pinpoint the location of an object or person on Earth. This system enables real-time movement, speed, and direction monitoring, providing invaluable data for various applications such as navigation, asset tracking, and emergency response.
How GPS Tracking Works
- Signal transmission: The GPS satellites continuously transmit radio signals containing their current position and time. These signals travel at the speed of light, and multiple satellites are required for accurate location determination.
- Signal reception: GPS tracking devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches, or dedicated GPS units, are equipped with GPS receivers that detect and process these satellite signals. Generally, a receiver must have a clear line-of-sight of a minimum of four satellites to accurately calculate its position.
- Trilateration: Once the GPS receiver acquires the signals from multiple satellites, it employs a mathematical process called trilateration to determine its location. Trilateration involves calculating the distance between the receiver and each satellite based on the time it takes the signal to travel from the satellite to the receiver.
- Position calculation: After obtaining the distances from at least four satellites, the GPS receiver can accurately determine its latitude, longitude, and altitude. This information is then used for various purposes, such as navigation, tracking, and mapping.
- Data processing and display: Depending on the GPS tracking device or application, the location information can be displayed on a map or used to provide turn-by-turn directions. The data can also be recorded and stored for future analysis or transmitted to a remote server for real-time monitoring and tracking.
With continual advancements in GPS technology and the integration of additional satellite constellations, the accuracy and reliability of GPS tracking are expected to improve even further in the future.
Why Businesses Use GPS Tracking
GPS tracking has become increasingly important for businesses across various industries, as it offers numerous benefits that help streamline operations, improve productivity, and enhance customer satisfaction. With advancements in GPS technology and the integration of additional features, such as geofencing, custom alerts, and predictive analytics, GPS tracking applications in the business world are expected to expand even further. Here are a few ways businesses already use GPS tracking.
Employee Time Tracking
GPS tracking can help businesses monitor employee work hours more accurately and efficiently, reducing the risk of time theft and ensuring accurate payroll. Using GPS-enabled time tracking systems, employees can clock in and out from their smartphones or other devices, automatically recording their location data. This information can help managers ensure employees work at assigned locations and prevent fraudulent clock-ins.
Employee Location Tracking
Real-time employee location tracking allows businesses to monitor the whereabouts of their field staff, such as sales representatives or technicians, enabling better resource allocation and improved customer service. By tracking employee movements, managers can optimize travel routes, provide faster emergency response times, and keep customers informed about expected arrival times.
Fleet / Vehicle Tracking
Many businesses, especially those in transportation, logistics, and delivery, rely on GPS tracking to manage and optimize their fleet of vehicles. GPS fleet tracking systems provide real-time data on vehicle location, speed, idle time, and route history, helping businesses reduce fuel costs, improve driver safety, and enhance overall fleet efficiency. Additionally, these systems can assist with preventive maintenance by monitoring vehicle health and alerting managers to potential issues.
Asset / Equipment Tracking
GPS tracking can help monitor the location and status of valuable assets and equipment, such as construction machinery, containers, or rental equipment. This helps prevent theft and loss and aids in inventory management and utilization. By knowing the exact location of assets, businesses can quickly allocate resources, schedule maintenance, and ensure timely delivery of equipment to job sites.
Enhanced Customer Service
GPS tracking enables businesses to provide better customer service by offering accurate and real-time information about the location and status of deliveries or service calls. This transparency helps manage customer expectations, reduce the number of inquiries, and improve overall satisfaction.
Data-Driven Decision Making
By analyzing the data collected through GPS tracking systems, businesses can gain valuable insights into their operations, identify inefficiencies, and make informed decisions to optimize processes. For example, route optimization based on historical data can help reduce travel time, fuel consumption, and vehicle wear, resulting in significant cost savings.
How Accurate Is GPS Tracking?
GPS tracking has proven to be an incredibly reliable and accurate technology for locating and monitoring employees, vehicles, assets, and more.
Modern GPS tracking systems are highly accurate, with most devices capable of providing location data within a range of 3 to 15 meters (9.8 to 49.2 feet). This level of accuracy is primarily due to the use of advanced GPS receivers, as well as the integration of other satellite constellations such as GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (Europe), and BeiDou (China).
Additionally, some GPS devices utilize assisted GPS (A-GPS) technology, combining satellite data with information from cell towers or Wi-Fi networks to enhance accuracy, especially in urban environments.
Comparing GPS Tracking to Alternative Methods
Cell Tower Triangulation
This method uses the signal strength between a mobile device and multiple cell towers to estimate its location. However, the accuracy of cell tower triangulation is highly variable, ranging from 50 meters (164 feet) in urban areas to several kilometers in rural settings. The limitations of this method include a lower density of cell towers in rural areas and signal interference from buildings or other structures in urban environments.
Wi-Fi positioning systems (WPS) estimate the location of devices based on the proximity to Wi-Fi access points. While this method can be accurate within 10 to 50 meters (32.8 to 164 feet) in areas with high Wi-Fi density, its effectiveness significantly decreases in regions with fewer access points or in the absence of Wi-Fi signals.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID technology uses radio frequency signals to identify and track objects or people equipped with RFID tags. Although RFID is useful for short-range tracking (typically less than 100 meters or 328 feet), it does not provide the same level of accuracy or coverage as GPS, making it less suitable for large-scale tracking applications.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons
BLE beacons are small devices that transmit signals to nearby smartphones or other devices, enabling indoor location tracking. However, the range of BLE beacons is limited to approximately 50 meters (164 feet) and is highly susceptible to interference from physical barriers, such as walls or furniture.
The Advantages of GPS Tracking
Based on the comparison above, it is evident that GPS tracking offers several advantages over alternative methods, such as:
- Superior Accuracy: GPS tracking provides location data with a high degree of accuracy, typically within 3 to 15 meters (9.8 to 49.2 feet), making it the most accurate option for tracking employees, vehicles, and assets.
- Global Coverage: Unlike other methods, GPS tracking works virtually anywhere on Earth, ensuring consistent and reliable tracking regardless of geographical location.
- Scalability: GPS tracking systems are easily scalable, allowing businesses to track several entities simultaneously without compromising accuracy or performance.
- Integration with Other Technologies: GPS tracking can be combined with technologies like A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou to enhance accuracy and reliability even further.
Factors That Affect GPS Accuracy
Although GPS tracking is known for its high degree of accuracy, several factors can influence the precision of the location data obtained.
GPS Tracker Type
The type and quality of a GPS tracker can significantly impact the accuracy of its location data. High-quality GPS devices typically feature more sensitive receivers and advanced processing capabilities, enabling them to achieve better accuracy and faster position fixes.
Some GPS trackers also support multi-constellation systems, such as GLONASS, Galileo, or BeiDou, which can improve accuracy by using additional satellite data. Additionally, devices with assisted GPS (A-GPS) technology can utilize data from cell towers or Wi-Fi networks to further enhance accuracy, especially in urban areas or locations with weak satellite signals.
The number of satellites a GPS receiver can access directly affects the accuracy of its positioning data. Ideally, a GPS receiver should have a clear sightline to at least four satellites to accurately determine its location. The more satellites a receiver can connect to, the better its geometric dilution of precision (GDOP), resulting in higher accuracy.
Furthermore, the positioning of satellites in the sky (satellite geometry) can also impact accuracy. Poor satellite geometry may lead to greater errors in position estimation, even if the receiver is connected to multiple satellites.
Various environmental factors can obstruct or weaken GPS signals, potentially resulting in inaccurate positioning data. Some common environmental factors that affect GPS accuracy include:
- Buildings and urban structures: Tall buildings and other urban structures can create a “canyon effect,” where satellite signals bounce off surfaces, causing multipath errors and signal delays.
- Natural obstacles: Dense foliage, mountains, or deep valleys can obstruct or weaken GPS signals, reducing the accuracy of location data.
- Atmospheric conditions: Weather conditions such as ionospheric disturbances or heavy cloud cover can cause signal delays, affecting the accuracy of GPS positioning.
GPS signals can be disrupted or interfered with by other electronic devices or signals, which may lead to inaccurate positioning data. Some common sources of GPS signal interference include:
- Radio-frequency (RF) devices: Devices that emit RF signals, such as televisions, radios, or cell phones, can interfere with GPS signals if they operate on frequencies close to those used by GPS.
- Jamming devices: Deliberate jamming of GPS signals using illegal devices can disrupt GPS tracking and cause inaccurate location data.
- Electromagnetic interference (EMI): EMI from power lines, transformers, or other electrical sources can interfere with GPS signals, reducing accuracy.
Various factors can ultimately influence GPS accuracy, including the type of GPS tracker, the number of accessible satellites, environmental factors, and signal interference. Understanding these factors can help users optimize their GPS devices and applications for improved accuracy and performance.
Advances in GPS technology and the integration of multi-constellation systems are continually working to mitigate these challenges and enhance the reliability and precision of GPS tracking.
Benefits of Accurate GPS Tracking
Accurate GPS tracking offers a wide range of benefits for business owners across various industries, helping them to optimize operations, enhance productivity, and ensure safety.
Improved Transparency, Productivity, & Safety
Accurate GPS trackers allow businesses to monitor their employees, vehicles, and assets in real-time, providing greater transparency into their operations. This real-time visibility helps identify inefficiencies, streamline processes, and allocate resources effectively. Moreover, accurate GPS tracking can help improve safety by monitoring driver behavior, such as speeding or harsh braking, and identifying potentially hazardous conditions or routes.
Accurate Time Cards, Mileage Reimbursement, & Payroll
With precise GPS tracking, businesses can ensure accurate timekeeping and payroll for their employees, particularly those working remotely or in the field. GPS-enabled time tracking systems can record employee clock-ins and clock-outs based on their location, reducing the risk of time theft or inaccurate reporting.
Additionally, accurate GPS tracking enables businesses to validate mileage claims for reimbursement, ensuring employees are compensated fairly for work-related travel.
GPS tracking systems can help businesses hold employees accountable for their actions and whereabouts during work hours by providing detailed and accurate location data. This increased accountability can lead to improved performance, as employees are more likely to adhere to schedules, routes, and job responsibilities when they know their activities are being monitored.
Reduced Likelihood of Labor Disputes
Accurate GPS tracking can help minimize labor disputes related to timekeeping, payroll, and work-related expenses. By providing verifiable data on employee work hours, locations, and travel distances, GPS tracking systems can be a reliable source of information in case of disagreements or misunderstandings. This can ultimately save businesses time and resources by reducing the likelihood of disputes and ensuring fair treatment of employees.
Accurate GPS tracker solutions ultimately offer numerous benefits for businesses across various industries. GPS tracking systems have become indispensable tools for modern businesses seeking to optimize their operations and remain competitive. They provide improved transparency, productivity, safety, accountability, accurate timekeeping and payroll, and a reduced likelihood of labor disputes.
The Most Accurate GPS Tracker for Contractors & Field Services
For contractors and field service businesses, having an accurate and reliable GPS tracking system is crucial for optimizing operations, improving productivity, and ensuring the safety of employees and assets. Workyard is a leading GPS tracking solution that offers state-of-the-art technology designed specifically for the needs of contractors and field service providers.
Key Features of Workyard
Workyard offers a range of features that make it the ideal GPS tracking solution for businesses in the construction and field service industries:
- Precise GPS Tracking: Workyard’s advanced GPS tracking technology provides highly accurate location data, enabling businesses to monitor employee movements, optimize travel routes, and allocate resources effectively.
- Time and Attendance Tracking: Workyard’s GPS-enabled time tracking system enables employees to remotely clock in and out from their smartphones or other devices, ensuring accurate work hour records and minimizing the risk of time theft.
- Job Site Geofencing: Workyard allows businesses to create custom geofences around job sites, enabling them to receive notifications when employees enter or leave designated areas. This feature helps ensure that employees are working at the correct locations and can be used to track unauthorized site access or after-hours activity.
- Real-Time Alerts: Workyard’s real-time alerts allow businesses to receive instant notifications of important events, such as when employees clock in or out, when vehicles exceed speed limits, or when assets enter or exit designated areas.
- Comprehensive Reporting: Workyard provides businesses with detailed reports on employee hours, job site activity, vehicle usage, and more, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and optimize their operations.
Case In Point: AV Decking
AV Decking, a deck and fence installation company, experienced the benefits of accurate GPS tracking using Workyard. By leveraging Workyard’s precise GPS tracking technology, AV Decking was able to optimize its operations and achieve significant cost savings.
Before implementing Workyard, AV Decking struggled with inaccuracies in payroll costs, largely due to their project managers’ manual timesheet submission process. The project managers, already burdened with numerous responsibilities, often resorted to estimating the hours employees work. This method resulted in significant discrepancies and growing concerns about payroll costs.
The executive team at AV Decking analyzed the situation and determined that time cards could be off by an average of 30 minutes per employee daily. This miscalculation equated to roughly $47,000 in payroll losses every week. Additionally, the pen-and-paper method of tracking time and attendance provided no transparency regarding employees’ whereabouts on job sites, making it difficult for project managers to track their teams accurately.
AV Decking explored several solutions to tackle these challenges and ultimately decided on Workyard’s advanced GPS time clock system. Workyard’s precise time tracking capabilities allowed them to monitor employee time more accurately.
Upon discussing the implementation with their Workyard Sales Executive, AV Decking projected annual payroll savings of $150,000 to $200,000. The company exceeded this estimation within just the first six weeks of using Workyard, highlighting the system’s effectiveness.
In addition to the substantial financial savings, Workyard’s robust GPS tracking features offered greater transparency in employee locations and proved valuable in ensuring their safety during work-related travels. This aspect was particularly important for AV Decking, as they view their employees as an integral part of their company family.
In short, Workyard’s accurate GPS tracking solution offers contractors and field service providers a reliable and accurate way to monitor employee movements, manage job sites, and optimize their operations.
With its precise GPS tracking technology, comprehensive features, and proven results, Workyard is the ideal choice for businesses seeking to improve productivity, enhance safety, and reduce costs.
The Importance of Accurate GPS Tracking for Businesses
Accurate GPS tracking is a valuable asset for businesses of all types, delivering cost savings, increased transparency, and improved operational efficiency. From construction and field service providers to transportation and logistics, accurate GPS tracking offers an array of benefits, enabling businesses to optimize operations, improve productivity, enhance safety, and streamline processes.
Implementing a reliable GPS tracking solution can help businesses optimize their operations, streamline processes, enhance safety, and improve productivity. The importance of accurate GPS tracking cannot be overstated, as it provides numerous benefits that can significantly impact a company’s bottom line and overall success.
One of the most significant advantages of accurate GPS tracking is the potential for substantial cost savings, and companies can save significantly by eliminating common payroll mistakes caused by timeclock inaccuracies. With a solution like Workyard, companies can take advantage of the most advanced GPS tracking technology on the market, ensuring their operations remain competitive and successful in today’s ever-evolving world. Sign up for a free trial of Workyard today!