1. What is GPS?
GPS is an acronym that stands for Global Positioning System. GPS is one of a few satellite navigational systems; however it is the only fully functional system currently in service. GPS consists of more than 2 dozen global positioning satellites orbiting the earth. Each satellite transmits radio signals which can be received by GPS receivers to determine location, speed and direction. GPS was first introduced in 1978, but was only in its experimental stages due to the few satellites that orbited the earth. However, ever since its launch, it has been an extremely important, practical and an indispensable technology. The maintenance of GPS is not cheap; it usually costs upwards of 400 million dollars to keep GPS up and running each year. It should be noted that GPS is a free service offered for the public good.
2. How does GPS work?
In order for GPS tracking to work, it is necessary to have both access to the Global Positioning System and have a GPS receiver. The GPS receiver is able to receive signals that are transmitted by GPS satellites orbiting over head. Once these satellite transmissions are received by the GPS receiver, location and other information such as speed and direction can be calculated. A GPS receiver needs to receive transmissions from at least three or more GPS satellites to calculate its position effectively. GPS receivers usually measure the time delays between the transmission and reception of each of the satellites GPS radio signal. This technique of calculating distance using three separate transmissions is called trilateration.
3. What is GPRS?
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is a digital, IP-based wireless packet data service offered by GSM-based cellular carriers (Cingular & T-Mobile in the USA and the significant majority of cellular providers internationally).
4. How does your device communicate?
The Vehicle Lokator II and Magic Box devices both communicate on the cellular network of GSM/GPRS through T Mobile/AT&T, our nationwide wireless provider. The GPSatellite communicates via the Globalstar Satellite network, globally. All 3 devices have a GPS chip set included in them as well. This allows the devices to get location coordinates from the 24 GPS satellites orbiting the Earth. The location specific information is then transmitted over the cellular network allowing C3LS to place the vehicles location on our mapping system.
5. Is this “real time” tracking
Yes, C3LS provides its customers “real time” tracking, with GPS devices updated their specific location based on a customer chosen tracking interval (10 minutes-1 minute). The devices can all be “pinged” in real time, and there is no need to download daily data or plug the device into an interface to extract data at the end of the work day.
6. What are the limitations of the technology?
Since the devices utilize both cellular technology as well as GPS technology, there are certain instances where the device is out of cellular coverage, thus requiring the Lokator to “store and forward” its locations until cellular communications are reacquired. Once reacquired, all stored data is transferred automatically. In regards to the limitations of GPS technology, if the line of sight to the internal GPS antenna is obstructed, GPS communications can be lost. It is important that device installation is done properly to avoid complications.
7. How many vehicles can be monitored at once?
There is no limit to the number of devices that 1 customer can monitor via the C3 system simultaneously.
8. What are the competitive advantages to your product as opposed to competition?
There are various competitive advantages that C3LS Distributors and Dealers can capitalize on, such as the pricing of our devices and monthly services (Most competitive in the industry). The look/feel and intuitiveness of the C3LS system separates C3LS from other competitors. C3LS also has patent protection via patent number 5,504,491. Support, Support, Support!!!
9. How far can we go back in time on reports?
Customers can access 90 days of historical data via the report web interface in the C3LS platform.
Customers are encouraged to utilize the Excel/CSV option for reporting, where data can be manipulated, archived and viewed at any time the company needs to access the information.
10. Is coverage “nationwide”?
C3LS utilizes the T-Mobile/AT&T cellular networks for connectivity to the units installed in the field, and their nationwide footprint for coverage is very robust and extensive.
11. Are your systems co-located?
C3LS has its servers up and operational 24/7, with mirrored redundant systems in place in a remote, Category 5 hurricane proof establishment. C3LS’s systems will always be up and operational as a result of this duplicity.
12. Who does C3 use for maps and map data?
Currently, C3LS is using the Google mapping interface for maps, and partners with another provider for the street level data that is displayed on the maps. C3LS is able to use any mapping interface and can customize mapping solutions based on the specific requests or needs.
13. Are the Satellite images (Satellite/Hybrid Views) in real time?
No they are not. Google provides C3LS with the satellite imagery, and although Google has worked extensively to keep these images updated, there are certain areas that are older.
14. Why is there a black box around my icons on the screen?
If this ever occurs, or a customer mentions this to you, it means that the browser that the customer is using to log into the C3LS system is using Internet Explorer 6 or older. C3LS’s system is optimized to perform on Internet Explorer 7. This is a free upgrade that you should advise your customers to take advantage of to optimize their tracking experience with C3LS. C3LS internet platform can be accessed using the Apple/Safari browser as well.
15. How long does the typical installation take?
A standard vehicle installation takes approximately 35-45 minutes, depending on the expertise level of the installer. It is a general 3 wire installation, which is very straight forward.
16. Is the device plugged into the BUSS of the vehicle?
The Vehicle Lokator II is not connected into the BUSS of the vehicle. Please see C3LS Installation Guide for specific installation directions. The Great Communicator device can retrieve vehicle diagnostics and plugs directly into the vehicle’s computer.
17. Can you monitor vehicle diagnostics?
Because C3LS’s Vehicle Lokator is NOT plugged into the BUSS of the vehicle, we cannot provide vehicle diagnostics like oil pressure, tire pressure and all other typical diagnostic readings. Typically, fleet customers don’t ask for this data, managing their business is normally their focus.
18. Can the Vehicle Lokator II be installed covertly?
The internal, dual GPS/GSM antenna is a very high powered, quality antenna. It is designed for applications where a customer can do both normal and covert type installations in their company/personal vehicles. Most businesses prefer covert to avoid employee tampering. Please see installation guide for covert installation options.
19. How many Geofences can be set per device?
Geofences are imaginary geographical boundaries that allow owners to monitor certain locations remotely. Each device can support/monitor 10 individual locations (Geofences) per device.
20. Do the SIM cards come “active”?
Each Vehicle Lokator and Safeguard Companion comes complete with their own individual SIM card that facilitates cellular communication to and from the device. These SIM cards are activated at time of shipment and are ready to be installed and tested once in the customer’s hands.
21. How accurate are the positions displayed for a vehicle?
Typically locations/addresses are within 2 meters.
22. What type of security is built into the online system?
C3LS web interface is totally secure, and we provide multi level security filters so that account administrators can set user access levels within their own company.
23. Is your system internet based? Does additional software need to be downloaded to access the C3LS internet platform?
The C3LS Enterprise software system is accessible from any computer, and does NOT require any additional software downloads to use the system. The system is internet based. (C3LS does offer stand alone systems for larger government/or other type entities that require additional security and want to have the data stored locally on their own company servers)
24. Can I monitor my fleet/vehicle from my cell phone?
Yes, C3LS has developed a sight for mobile access to a fleet, without having to download cumbersome software to your mobile device- (mobile.c3tracking.com).
25. At what time intervals can I track my vehicles?
C3LS offer various automatic tracking intervals for their clients. Our “family” plan, allows for 30 minute auto tracking, with limited geofencing and other features. On the fleet/business management side, we offer a 10, 5, 3, 2 and 1 minute automatic interval.
26. Do you have an installation team nation wide?
C3LS has an installation presence nationwide and can support remote installs any where in the country.
27. What other products and solutions do you provide?
C3LS is a GPS software solution provider. We currently offer 3 different GPS devices, all with a specific niche application. The Vehicle Lokator II is a vehicle tracking/business management device. The Magic Box device is a handheld GPS device providing personal security, real time tracking, and 2 way voice capabilities; the Magic Box also has vehicle applications as well. The GPSatellite is a global satellite product that does not use the T Mobile network for communication, but uses Globalstar for worldwide coverage. This is a fixed asset monitoring product with up to 4 years battery life and built to withstand most weather conditions. The Communicator device has more robust applications, using an in dash Garmin screen with soft keys for accepting jobs, as well as the ability to interface with cameras and DVR devices, and had up to 16 additional inputs for special application. C3LS will also be rolling out an Asset tracking device that will be used for cargo, pets and the elderly. C3LS is always looking for new, cost affective products to expand its product line. Look for the GPS pet monitoring product which should be coming some time this year.
28. Can I have a live demonstration?
C3LS provides a unique demonstration procedure, giving its dealers and distributors the ability to purchase demo devices set up for a “plug and play” experience. Easy for sales persons to give potential clients a device, and with some brief software training, allow them to test the technology in their own environment, and strong tool in the sales process.
29. Can I manually locate my vehicles “On Demand”?
Yes, C3LS has created these various monthly automatic tracking plans with the ability for a customer to proactively “Locate” any vehicle in their fleet above and beyond their set monthly tracking interval. 300 active pings per vehicle per month are allotted for the clients use as they see fit. Locates cannot be rolled over into the next calendar month.
30. What do the LED lights on the device signify?
The C3LS installation guide reviews these details. Lights flashing indicate connection to the cellular network.
31. What is the difference between “real time” GPS tracking and a passive GPS system?
Passive GPS systems typically download all vehicle data at the end of work day/week. Active “pinging” of passive devices is not available, and no live notifications are sent to the fleet owners. Real time tracking allows for vehicle information to be sent to the dispatchers live, all “pings” are also allowed in this application. You will encounter companies that offer passive systems. Typically low monthly cost (if any) and substandard services and features. Does not allow for live notifications. It is a reactive system with minimum benefits to the customer.
32. What about GPS enabled cell phones instead of an installed GPS device?
As companies wanting to tracking their vehicles/employees begin their search for information about GPS tracking devices, many come upon what appears to be an easy, affordable solution. To the buyer who in not familiar with how GPS systems work, GPS enabled phones appear to offer the cheapest way to start tracking your employees and your fleet. To the buyer who is uneducated with GPS equipment GPS phones seem to be an easy way to begin reaping the benefits of GPS tracking, but as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for”. Following are the main problems with GPS phones:
1. Driver tampering
2. Dramatically reduced battery life requires phone to be constantly re-charged
3. Incomplete Reporting
4. Nextel coverage and cost
Over the years we have heard several complaints from companies who have tried using GPS phones to track there vehicles/employees. Some of our customers tried using GPS cell phones, but after a few weeks they began to realize the downsides of the phone tracking solution versus the hard-wired GPS tracking that C3 Location Systems offers.
If you are considering trying a GPS phone, take a moment to make some comparisons. Tampering The first and most obvious problem with the GPS phones is that the drivers can simply turn off either the java applet running the GPS software on the phone or the phone all together. There are message boards throughout the Internet where crafty employees are spreading the knowledge on how to disable the GPS phone without being detected. Going into basements or using a metal wrap around the phone, or placing it in a tool box will make it appear as if the phone has merely “lost signal”. With a GPS phone, you rely too much on the person who is responsible for carrying the phone.
The best way to ensure proper reporting is to take these factors out of the driver’s hands. By using a hard-wired vehicle tracking system that is installed discreetly in the vehicle, driver interaction is taken out of the picture. The units are always on and always able to tell where a vehicle is in real time over the web.
Battery Life When the GPS tracking is added to the phone, the battery life of the phone decreases by about 50-75%. What this means is that the GPS phone will not last an entire work day without requiring at least one re-charge. This is simply another excuse the person carrying the phone can use if he/she does not want to be tracked.
Reporting The difference in reporting is another area where the phone falls short. Although the GPS cell phones can usually report on 3-15 minute intervals like their dedicated counterparts, the fact that a GPS signal can be lost so easily, dramatically affects the Start-Stop reports it can produce. Business owners are relying on accurate reports so they can feel confident when comparing their employee time sheets against the GPS software report. Using a system that is only accurate 50% of time only leads to doubt on the employers end. When a technician insists he was at a location, but the report isn’t there to back it up, the fleet manager doesn’t know if he/she should trust the employee or the GPS data. Hardwired GPS systems take this issue out of the equation. Because they are “always on” and have the best ability to maintain a GPS lock with the satellites, the reports a manager has to look at are always 99% accurate.
Coverage/Cost GPS phones require a minimum monthly Nextel voice plan of $39.00, plus a minimum monthly data plan of $9.99. When you add the monthly tracking services, you are easily into the $60.00+ range on monthly services, and that is minimal use of the voice on the phone. Finally, Nextel has the weakest coverage of any wireless carrier.
In conclusion, companies who use a GPS phone for tracking vehicles/employees invariably run in to the same critical performance problems that can only be overcome by installing one of Global Tracking’s real-time GPS systems.
33. Is there an activation fee?
Each Vehicle Lokator II, Magic Box and Communicator require an active SIM card, which incurs an activation cost. This cost can be passed through to the end user as part of the hardware purchase. But C3LS does incur a cost per activation, which we in turn pass on to our dealer/distributor network. The SATracker device also incurs a standard activation fee per device. This is also a pass through cost to the customer.
34. Does the device have any tamper proof technology built in?
The Vehicle Lokator II device has several features to limit the tampering of the device, its antenna, or removing the power source from the device. The Vehicle Lokator II device has an external battery as a back up (optional) for just such an occurrence. It will automatically send a “power cut” alarm and notification to fleet owners in real time if this happens. Covert installations eliminate tampering with the device, and since the dual internal antennas works flawlessly beneath a vehicle’s dashboard (as long as it’s not metal), that is usually not an issue.
If the device stops reporting, you will notice that in looking at the last location of the device. If the device is NOT updating with current data, there is an issue. Trouble shooting procedures for devices that stop reporting in the field are available.
35. Can I group my fleet according to how my business is structured?
As a feature of the C3LS’s system, a company can group their fleet based on whatever company groupings they currently use. Example is a company that has vehicles across the nation, in various regions. The vehicles can be grouped by region, with the director of each region only allowed to track/monitor the vehicles in his/her region. Again, security levels created by the administrator support this set up by the customer.
36. What accessories come included with the Vehicle Lokator II device?
The Vehicle Lokator II device comes complete with the high quality, internal dual (GPS/GSM) antenna, power harness and fuse kit for installation. Additional features are considered optional and require add on hardware to support.
37. How long is the service agreement?
Standard C3LS Service agreement is 2 years, just like any normal cellular agreement. For Dealers/Distributors that wish to brand the C3LS service, C3LS can provide a sample end user agreement.
38. How many inputs and outputs does the device have?
The Vehicle Lokator II device has 3 inputs and 2 outputs for additional features and sensors.
Please see C3LS optional installation guide for add on sensors and wiring diagrams for specific features, i.e. starter interrupt, and remote door unlock.
39. Does the Vehicle Lokator II device continue to track at the same interval when the vehicle is parked and the engine is off?
The Vehicle Lokator II will always report its location at that predetermined interval when moving. When ignition is off, the vehicle will send a “heartbeat” signal every 12 hours.
40. What types of features can I provided using those inputs/outputs?
Additional features can be starter disable, remote door unlock, sensors for monitoring when doors open/close, temperature sensors for monitoring temp levels, the power take off (PTO‘s) on garbage trucks and tow trucks. Please contact C3LS if there is a specific feature not mentioned that you might need support for.
41. Is my monthly service a flat fee or can I incur overages?
All of C3LS monthly auto tracking plans are FLAT FEES, there are no overage, and business can budget based on a fixed cost every month. Sensor monitoring can incur an additional monthly fee. Additional features only require additional hardware/installation costs, but DO NOT effect the monthly service plans.
42. Why is your communications more efficient than other providers that I have seen?
Wireless Networks – GSM/GPRS
For Real-time GPS tracking, the wireless network is used to communicate the GPS data from the vehicle/asset, so location, speed and stop times can be viewed in Real-time. Think in terms of how mobile phones work. There are two types used; (1) Digital Cellular and (2) Satellite.
Obviously, digital cellular is more popular due to cost. This is the same with communicating real-time GPS data for vehicle tracking.
Wireless Networks: Cellular vs. Satellite
Due to the facts that (1) hardware is less expensive (2) monthly service fees are less expensive
(3) superior network reliability; a digital cellular-based system is the best way to go for the vast majority of companies that want to use a real-time system for nearly any type of tracking.
Digital Wireless Networks
If you are looking to purchase a 1st tier GPS tracking system, then you should be looking for a system that operates on a 1st tier digital wireless network. All of the 1st tier wireless communications companies is the U.S. market have moved to digital wireless networks. There are two types of types of digital wireless protocols that the major communication companies have utilized for the build-out of their wireless networks:
1. GSM/GPRS – Cingular/AT&T, T-Mobile
2. CDMA (1xrt) – Verizon, Sprint, Alltell
There is an on-going debate as to which of these protocols is superior for cell phones, but for live data feeds for devices used for GPS tracking, mobile email, and wireless forms, the “always on” technology of GPRS is clearly superior.
Other (Older, low-bandwidth) Wireless Networks:
Mobitex: Here are the facts the Mobitex Wireless Network:
1. Mobitex is a stagnant wireless network that is not being expanded. Formerly Cingular’s “pager” network, Mobitex was sold to Velocita Wireless a few years ago. Cingular, along with the rest of the 1st tier wireless carriers (Verizon, All-Tel, Sprint, T-Mobile) in the U.S market have committed to newer wireless digital technology; GSM/GPRS, which Mobitex in not.
2. Mobitex is a low bandwidth network originally built for sending text messages for pagers (does anyone still carry a pager?).
3. Coverage on the Mobitex network in the U.S market is much less that Cingular’s GPRS network.
4. Our experience with GPS systems that run on Mobitex is that they are not reliable due to delays.
Aeris & Cellemetry: These are analogue networks. Analogue cellular is out-dated, and all of the 1st tier wireless carriers in the U.S. market have moved from analogue to digital technology.
GPS devices that use this network are “pay as you go” type devices. One should only consider using GPS devices on these networks for applications where only a few location records per dayare required.
GPS devices that use these networks should never be considered for fleet management applications due to the fact that reporting vehicle activity for a sound fleet management system requires between 1000-3000 records generated per month. The cost of this many records on these networks would be far above the flat fee you would pay with a superior, digital GSM/GPRS
43. Can I be notified in “real time” about certain statuses with my fleet? IE.
Speeding, geographical boundary breach, etc?
Yes, C3LS gives fleet owners/ parents/customers the feature to be notified by email, text message, or both, in regards to certain “events” or “alarms” triggered by the device in the field. Speeding, geofence breach, excessive idling and power loss are all examples of notifications that can be sent to a customer’s email and cell phone in real time if the customer chooses.
44. In what languages is the website available?
The website is available in English, Spanish and French.
45. What is a Geofence?
A geofence is a virtual boundary on a given geographic region. Devices can notify you when it enters or leaves that set geographical area. The Vehicle Lokator II supports 10 GeoFences , the Magic Box supports 4.
46. Can I have different vehicles in my fleet with different tracking plans?
Yes, each vehicle in a fleet can have its own unique tracking interval, as C3LS understands that not all vehicles perform the same daily tasks and some vehicles require more attention than others.
47. Can I change my own tracking interval or do I need to contact someone?
To change an automatic tracking interval, the dealer/distributor must contact C3LS to make that change. That change can be done “Over the Air” so physically touching or reinstalling a device is not needed.
48. How is this technology beneficial to businesses?
In today’s economy, business management and saving money are at the forefront of all business owners’ minds. Being able to determine driver patterns, eliminate moonlighting, side jobs, and weekend use of company vehicles will affect the company’s bottom line directly. Limiting gasoline expenses, employee overtime, wear and tear on vehicle engines and tires are real costs that can have a huge effect on any business. Idle time monitoring is another huge feature that limits gas guzzling as well as monitoring driver speed. By giving business owner true control over their fleet, they can become more efficient and manage the bottom line more effectively.
49. Is there a ROI (Return on Investment) calculator available?
C3LS provides an ROI calculator that allows a dealer/distributor the ability to convert this technology into real dollars and cents for the business owner. Presenting this calculator to a potential customer and imputing some very conservative savings will go a long way towards turning that potential customer into a real customer. Business management is the key to selling this service to Fleet owners.
50. What types of Reports are available to me and my customers?
C3LS provides its users with many important reports to assist them in running their business. From a complete history report (90 days), speeding reports, ignition on/off reports (virtual time clock) to idle time reports and daily/weekly or monthly mileage reports.
Customers can generate those reports in various forms (PDF, HTML or Excel).