1. GPS Real-Time Tracker: These come in many different shapes and sizes. Some can be concealed and others are more obvious. Some can be easily removed and others are hard-wired to the car and the car battery. For a GPS tracker to be a real-time tracker (there are GPS trackers that are not, see below), it must have certain requirements which we will cover here.
GPS Tracker FAQ:
1. How do GPS Real-Time Trackers work?
GPS real-time trackers must communicate with a GPS signal to satellites in order to determine its current position, and in addition, must send another signal to the user as to the device’s whereabouts in real time. This communication is typically handled through a GSM/GPRS signal, essentially an SMS text message, to a server somewhere. The server translates the data and shows the user on a map (such as a map powered by Google Maps) where the device currently is.
2. Do you need a SIM card to use a Real Time GPS Tracker?
Typically, you will have to supply your own GSM or GPRS SIM card. AT&T and T-Mobile are carriers that can sell you an inexpensive pre-paid SIM card which you can insert into the device.
3. How Do I Get Started?
Once you’ve gotten the device, you’ll probably have to open it and insert the SIM card. Many devices require to be unscrewed and taken apart a little. Many GPS tracking devices require a subscription to the tracking services. Since the tracker is sending SMS messages to a server, someone must provide the hosting service. Some tracking devices will allow you to set up your own server as well if you are an advanced user. Otherwise, you will have to contact the vendor of the GPS real-time tracker and inquire on how to get set-up. Typically it is a very simple process where the customer need only give their serial number (S/N), and an account number of some kind which is included with the device. Often, many devices may be linked to a single license or account (in the case of fleets). Contact your hardware vendor for more details.
4. How Much Does a GPS Real-Time Tracker Cost?
Judging by the number of reviews, the Zoombak is one of the most purchased personal trackers on Amazon that allows you to track someone in real time using Google Maps. They also offer service plans for real time tracking services. The unit itself is going for around $70 on Amazon.
2. GPS Data Logger
The other popular way of tracking a person or a car is with a GPS logger. GPS loggers are great because, unlike the real-time logger, they don’t require any kind of SMS or other secondary communication signal. It just uses GPS signals, communicating with satellites, and logging everywhere you’ve been. The obvious downside is you only get the data when you plug the device back into a computer, it does not provide real-time tracking.
GPS Data Logger FAQ:
1. How do GPS Data Loggers work?
GPS Loggers communicate via GPS satellite and reliably record on embedded memory chips the positions on the planet that the logger has occupied. It keeps this data stored until it is connected to a computer later. Typical data loggers look like big fat USB thumb drives with powerful magnets that you can attach to cars.
2. What Kinds of Software Work With GPS Loggers?
Lots of GPS loggers simply work with Google Maps and Google Earth, both of which I’m confident most of you use. The trackers come with software that is essentially powered by Google Maps plus added features. So, if you know how to use Google Maps, you’re going to be fine.
3. How Much Do GPS Data Loggers Cost?
The Trackstick on Amazon is about $135.
The “Obvious, Sick, Twisted, Never Actually Do This Reason” why you’d want to track someone
OK, let’s broach an uncomfortable subject that I’m sure has passed through all of our minds at some point in our lives. Any jealous soul among you has probably asked yourself: “How can I track my girlfriend?” or “How do I track my boyfriend?” or the ever popular, “How do I know the person who is cheating on their spouse with me isn’t also cheating on me with someone else?” These reasons of course are not good reasons to get a GPS tracker, so please don’t use my advice for evil. The other one is, parents, don’t hide GPS trackers in your kid’s cars. If you insist on using this to keep an eye on your kid, at least be open about it if you ever want them to trust you in their early to mid-adult life ever again.
Better Reasons Why You’d Need to Track Someone Using GPS
There are a lot of businesses that rely on a fleet of vehicles to support their core functions. Pizza places need pizza deliverers. Waste management needs dump trucks. The US Postal Service needs mail trucks. Companies need ways of tracking these vehicles in real time. Parents also have the option (ahem, with child consent!) to keep an eye on their valued progeny. Nerdy people that travel a lot like to just have a record of where they’ve been. Law enforcement also uses GPS trackers on people (but I’m not going to say that I always endorse that either).