Officials in the city of Warren in Macomb County Michigan have agreed to add GPS tracking technology, a nearly $600-thousand dollar investment, to city vehicles including snow plows, and sanitation trucks. The fleet tracking initiative will provide an extra convenience to citizens such as knowing when to expect services, and the city hopes to recoup their investment in efficiency by eliminating manual mileage reporting, and more carefully watching the location of city assets.
With real time GPS tracking updates every 2 minutes via GPS tracking software, supervisors will know when a city vehicle has left its predetermined set of boundaries, a process known as geo-fencing, and will receive reports when city vehicles are traveling at excessive speeds or when brakes are operated abruptly. The city expects that the savings gained by automated reporting, and eliminating the excessive or unauthorized use of city vehicles will be well worth the investment.
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As parts of the western USA, particularly California, are reaching historic drought conditions, GPS tracking devices typically used to provide earthquake prediction data are providing some important measurements of the earth’s crust. As drought conditions worsen, the earth’s crust rises because of the lack of water in the soil which would normally weigh it down. By tracking the rises in the earth’s crust, scientists are able to measure and track the drought’s severity. In the west, the average rise of the earth’s crust over the last year is 4cm. However, the mountainous regions of California have seen rises as high as 15 cm this year.
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The world of GPS tracking continues to receive much needed replacements for antiquated GPS II-A satellites launched during the 1990′s. On August 1, a United Launch Atlas 5 rocket successfully launched the third of 4 new satellites set to be launched in 2014–all part of a series of twelve new GPS satellites.
The new GPS-IIF satellites, manufactured by Boeing, come with multiple advantages over their 1990′s predecessors, including:
- Improved atomic time signals for more accurate reporting data
- An added signal for civilian use–to be used as a GPS signal for aircraft travel. (This signal is known as L5, which began broadcasting in April)
- Medium-Earth orbit
The newly launched satellite is undergoing a few weeks of testing by the Air Force to assure that it is fully functional before being placed into service.
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Portage Township Schools on the southeast side of Lake Michigan recently installed GPS trackers on all 110 buses in the school’s fleet. Added as a measure of convenience for both parents and administration, the program was given a “test drive” during summer school to prepare for the beginning of the 2014 school year.
Using GPS tracking software on computers or smart phones, parents and faculty are able to see the exact location of any bus at any time–even on field trip days– While the new GPS tracking system will most assuredly offer parents peace of mind that their child made it to school safely, officials also hope it will be an added convenience for parents of children whose buses are running late. With tracking software, parents will have detailed information on when the bus can be expected, hopefully eliminating the need to call the school officials.
School administration also hopes to use the system to conserve fuel and maintain efficiency by rerouting buses when traffic incidents occur.
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You’ve probably seen them in your own community…large metal bins for dropping off clothing donations. As it turns out, not even donations given in good will are exempt from those who rummage through clothing bins in hopes of reselling or keeping the goods. One Baltimore company, that originally thought donations were down, has successfully retrieved stolen goods, and led authorities to recycled clothing thieves with the help of GPS tracking software– and in the process found out that donations weren’t down after all. By placing GPS tracking devices in various clothing items–in pockets, liners, etc., and using GPS tracking software, the company has successfully retrieved several batches of stolen clothing. Company officials use geofencing, a feature of the tracking software to receive cell phone alerts whenever one of their GPS tracking devices leaves the immediate area of the clothing collection bins. The clothing collected by the company is bailed and then shipped to third world countries.
Some clever covert GPS tracking and a little public shaming is helping to reduce the big problem of bicycle theft in San Francisco. Plain clothed police officers are planting GPS equipped bicycles around the city, tracking bike thieves, and charging them. A little public shame is part of the deal, with mugshots posted on Twitter under the hashtag #ThankYou4TakingOurBaitBike. An estimated 4,000 bicycles have been stolen in San Francisco since 2012–triple the number of cell phones reported stolen for the same time period.
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After the deployment of 260 GPS tracking devices in garbage trucks, police cars, and other city owned vehicles over the last few years, the city of Grand Rapids recently suspended and warned various city workers. The reported offenses mostly consist of taking longer than authorized breaks and driving company vehicles for personal use. However, a few years back, a police officer was forced to resign after GPS data revealed that he or she was taking unauthorized breaks outside of his or her designated patrol area.
The city has recently begun installing GPS trackers on fire trucks with the goal of reducing the response times of some calls. Based on data provided by GPS tracking software, dispatchers can easily select the truck in the best position to respond
The tracking devices used by the city of Grand Rapids are not covert tracking devices; all employees are made aware of their presence on city owned vehicles.
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The second of four GPS tracking satellite launches planned by the Air Force for 2014 was successfully completed a day late on May 16 due to weather complications on the originally projected launch date. According to CBS News, the $245 million dollar satellite is part of an ongoing effort to replace and enhance the capabilities of existing satellites which have already been in use for years longer than they were designed for.
The effort to upgrade the current global positioning network of 30 satellites is for both military and civilian benefit, especially considering the many ways tracking devices and GPS tracking software have become an integral part of the daily lives of average people, including cell phone applications, GPS trackers for personal protection, covert tracking for law enforcement, and more.
The third satellite launch is set for July 2014, with the fourth to follow in the fall.
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