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Friday, June 28, 2013

OBDII GPS tracking - keeping the installs fast and simple

If your fleet of vehicles consists of light duty commercial vehicles, or passenger vehicles - then you might want to consider an OBDII GPS tracking device.  They are simple to install, which for large fleets of vehicles can make deployment quick and simple - and because of the integrated antennas, they're relatively tamper resistant. 

Some items to consider:
  • Employ a device with an internal battery.  This makes the device difficult to disable, and it can continue to track for several hours, or possibly days as long as the device is still in the vehicle.  You can even track yourself on foot for short periods of time by pocketing the device.
  • Utilize an extension cable if the installation of the device makes it prone to the driver hitting it, or causes it to stand out in any way.
  • Be sure that the tracking interface includes the availability of a WebApp, so that the vehicle can be tracked using any smartphone.
  • The devices are easy to install; however that means they can easily be removed as well.  If you want the ability to track the vehicle more covertly, or with some dedicated IO capabilities, then a more traditional 'black box' device may be in order.
  • Easy to install and uninstall also means that it's easy to move between vehicles if needed - which may include the need to track the employee's vehicle (which they may be using on behalf of their employer) or a rental car or van, or for fleets of leased vehicles where black-box installation isn't practical.
  • The location of the integrated GPS antenna isn't optimal.  Many locations for the device are under the steering column, and this can be adequate for 'reasonable' tracking needs in many cases - but if the vehicle is being driven in areas where the view of the sky is consistently compromised, consider a 'black box' device with an external antenna.
OBDII interfaces in the USA do not typically include features such as remote starting, remote alarming, window control, lock control, vehicle disabling or speed throttling, etc.  Interfaces of this sort are prohibited by most vehicle manufacturers, and if employed can potentially void the vehicle's warranty.

However, the device, if properly installed and operational (and within an adequate wireless coverage area), can provide real-time vehicle location and recovery services, as well as driver safety and behavior assessment; and future upgrades to more advanced technology will be easy to implement or swap out - or to move between vehicles as needed.