First things first. If you are running a business and are thinking about tracking an employee without their knowledge or permission, be careful. The rules on what is and is not legal will not only vary from state to state, but may even vary from city to city. It’s a good idea to check in with the local police or an attorney before deciding whether or not you want to go the covert tracking route.
If you do decide that a covert, battery operated unit is the right choice for you application, here are 5 features to consider when picking your tracker:
1. Device Sensitivity: The ability of the device to pick up a weak GPS signal can be extremely important depending upon the application. In some cases the device can be placed in plain sight, such as on the vehicle dashboard, but in other cases it needs to be concealed underneath the dash or under a seat. We’ve heard from quite a few people who have complained being sold a device that does not work well unless they are placed in a location where they have direct visibility to the open sky. If the application requires that the unit be concealed, you will need to consider a professional grade device, which generally works well even when concealed underneath a dashboard or passenger seat.
2. Coverage: Most GPS tracking devices send their data into the tracking server using a cell phone network, so it’s vital to understand which network provider is being used. Some tracking systems will cut costs by using a single provider’s network, which can lead to reporting gaps when the device roams outside of their coverage area. You also want to find out what happens to the data that is generated when the device is outside of its network coverage. Our tracking system will hold any tracking data that is generated until the unit is back in coverage and forward the data along as soon as possible, but a lot of providers simply drop the data in this situation in an effort to cut costs. Be sure to ask about this feature when considering any tracking system.
3. Battery Life: How long do the batteries last? This is one of the most important questions for a covert GPS device. The answer will depend upon several factors including the amount of time spent in motion, how often the device is updating its location, and how strong the GPS signal is. It can be difficult to sort out exactly how long the battery life will be, and it’s not uncommon for a retailer to be vague, or even misleading about this important parameter. We have seen more than one example of vendors using deceptive terms about their battery life to make a sale. One common trick is to highlight the device’s “standby time”, which defines how long the batteries will last as long as the device is not actively tracking!
4. Customer Service: What’s the point in purchasing a highly technical device if you can’t get help to learn how to use it? GPS tracking needs a complex mix of hardware, software, wireless, and mapping services to function, which means that the likelihood of needing professional help is higher than with a typical consumer electronics application. Sageplan prides itself in having the best customer service in the industry. If someone claims to offer service, test them on it! We talk to people all the time that have been stuck with a gadget that the sales guy said was awesome, but when it did not work there was nowhere to turn to for help.
5. Cost: Assuming all the other features are equal, the logical choice for the buyer is to go with the retailer offering the lowest cost. We know everyone is looking for the least expensive option, and we work very hard to provide exactly that. We are not the cheapest option out there! If you are surprised by that admission, then you have not had the same chance we have had to listen to the stories from people who got suckered into buying a cheap gadget because it was, well, cheap, only to find out after the fact that the device simply was not up to the job at hand. Make the effort to understand the full value of the service being offered by each provider.
If you have a need for a single GPS tracking device, or are thinking about deploying a fleet monitoring system across an entire business organization, be sure to talk to a reputable company before choosing your provider. If you choose to talk to us, we will take the time to go through the list of options with you to find the solution that is best for you. We know we are not always going to be the right service provider for every application, but we will always work hard to make sure that you get the very best value possible for your investment if you choose us as your GPS tracking solution partner.