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GPS obsessed

Sunday
26 February 2017

Building Safe Jobsites

By James Neely/Guest Author

For residents in urban areas, construction is a part of life. Almost all city dwellers will encounter a construction site at some point in their day, and some will see bulldozers and dump trucks when they look out the front window. But where does all that construction equipment go at the end of the workday? It’s not feasible to pack everything up and cart it back to a warehouse or secure parking area, and for that reason many contractors will leave vehicles and equipment in place on the jobsite where they become tempting targets for theft. In order to reduce the chances of losing equipment and materials over the course of a job, more and more companies have begun protecting their construction equipment with GPS tracking systems.

A GPS tracking device placed inside a vehicle or on a piece of equipment or material will send signals at intervals to a computer, allowing construction managers to monitor their assets even when away from the job site. If a piece of equipment is stolen, law enforcement officers can recover it much more quickly with the information provided by the tracking unit than they could without that information. Companies that choose not to implement GPS tracking technology on the job site see thousands of dollars in losses each year due to theft since many of the vehicles stolen will never be recovered, while those that do monitor their equipment with the technology see savings in the thousands.

In addition to location monitoring, GPS tracking also provides construction managers with information about their employees’ driving habits. They can tell which drivers maintain the speed limit in their company vehicles, which ones leave equipment idling over the lunch break, and which ones take a detour for personal reasons while driving the company vehicle on the clock. Information can be viewed in real time or as a report at the end of the day, with each stop noted along with the length of time spent at each place. With this information in hand, managers can implement training programs that teach drivers how to conserve fuel and they can address any problem behavior that crops up.

Companies across the nation currently face economic struggles, but GPS tracking provides construction businesses with the knowledge and resources they need to make the most of every dollar. Savings garnered by conserving fuel and protecting assets from theft will quickly justify the cost of implementing GPS tracking units for the jobsite.

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Into the Blue

From elementary school on, children and adults alike display a fascination with paper airplanes. There’s something about the ability to build a flying machine with nothing more than two hands and a piece of paper that ignites the imagination, leading to some really fantastic creations. While most people limit their paper plane construction to simple projects constructed during idle moments, some take the hobby much further. One of the most daring paper plane projects is set to launch this summer in the United Kingdom. The aircraft will be carried aloft by a weather balloon with a GPS tracking unit attached and then released remotely, with the intention of setting the record for the longest paper plane flight in history.

The GPS tracking device carried by the Vulture 1, as the plane has been dubbed, will send signals every couple of minutes to a computer, allowing viewers to watch the plane’s progress and also to locate it once it has reached the ground. Dedicated plane watchers can follow the flight in real time via their computers as the GPS unit sends each signal rather than waiting for a complete report at the end of the flight.

The masterminds of the project have already given their GPS tracking unit its first test run by carrying it in a vehicle through some remote parts of the country, with outstanding results. Despite traveling through various terrains, the GPS tracking unit continued to transmit and produced an accurate log of its travels. The technology works by sending a signal from the transmitter to a computer and then plotting the unit’s location at each transmission on a map. As launch day approaches, fans of the project can expect a progress map that reports location at each transmission accurately within a few feet.

While most of us will never send a paper plane launching into the sky with a GPS tracking unit attached, still, almost everyone can benefit from the technology that will be carried by the plane. GPS tracking devices can assist in care for the elderly, keep children safe, protect your vehicle, monitor criminals on parole, and keep an eye on the family pet. They provide a measure of safety and peace of mind that can’t be achieved any other way, since they provide another pair of eyes to watch out for the people and things you care about most when you can’t be there.

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Private Eye in the Digital Age

By James Neely/Guest Author

Private investigators make their living by spying on people. They use legal means to follow a given person throughout his or her day with the goal of finding out whether he or she might be guilty of engaging in illegal or unsavory activities. Many private investigators work for legal teams, while others work with private individuals to monitor the activities of a spouse or business partner. Cramped offices, smoke-filled rooms, and long hours waiting in the car paint a picture that most associate with private investigation; however, the investigators of today use much more sophisticated techniques to gather information. Many rely heavily on GPS tracking to follow an individual. By placing a GPS tracking device under the car, they can follow a person’s movements from a remote location as the device sends signals at specified intervals.

Concerns over privacy violations have surfaced in many states as GPS tracking has become more common. In light of the controversy, the seventh circuit court of appeals ruled that placing a GPS tracking device in a vehicle did not constitute an unreasonable search since the information gathered could have been observed in the public sphere. Some states, however, have begun drafting their own laws to protect the privacy of their citizens. Georgia, for instance, is preparing to discuss a bill that would make it unlawful to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle in a public place. The intent is to protect citizens from stalkers or from unreasonable surveillance.

While discussions about privacy concerns have repeatedly surfaced around the nation with regard to GPS tracking, the benefits of using the technology far outweigh its potential problems. Police can use the technology to monitor movements of suspected criminals and to follow the activity of parolees. Parents can monitor their children when they’re away from home or walking to and from school. And private investigators can legitimately use the devices to help them do their jobs, providing essential information for legal teams and private citizens. Even if states do begin passing privacy laws that prohibit the use of GPS tracking in certain situations, P.I.’s would still be able to monitor the car of a client’s spouse if the vehicle was registered under both names. Since the property belongs to both individuals, no violation of privacy would take place.

Private investigators have come a long way since they were stereotyped in black and white movies. With the help of GPS tracking, they will continue to play a vital role in providing information to their clients.

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GPS On the Job

By James Neely/Guest Author

The word construction brings to mind hard hats, heavy equipment, and long hours spent on the job site as each new project takes shape. While these stereotypes are accurate, building contractors also deal with employee time management, theft protection, and other administrative duties in order to keep the job site functioning smoothly. In the past, some of these issues could be difficult to control, but now more and more construction site managers are turning to GPS tracking devices to solve problems at work.

Theft prevention is one of the primary uses for GPS tracking among construction companies. By equipping vehicles and expensive materials with GPS tracking devices, managers can keep an eye on the valuable equipment housed on the job site. Thieves target construction equipment because they can make a lot of money quickly on each sale. They also steal materials such as wire or metal that has inherent value. One police department in Idaho used a bait technique in which they put a GPS tracker in a roll of wire, left it on a construction site, and waited for thieves to pick it up. When they did, the officers were able to apprehend them almost immediately. Equipping each vehicle and piece of equipment with a GPS tracking device can prove to be a wise decision since it enables police to recover stolen items much more quickly.

Another way that GPS tracking can aid managers on construction sites and at other businesses is by keeping track of employees’ whereabouts in order to determine accurate time clock punches. State and federal regulations demand that accurate records be kept of hours worked, meaning that employers must have a reliable way to determine in and out punches for breaks, lunch hours, and for beginning and ending the day. Software programs allow employees to clock in via smartphone once they reach the job site, but some employers have encountered problems with employees clocking in before they leave home and logging travel time on the clock. To remedy this problem, companies can use GPS tracking technology to determine where the employee is when he clocks in or out, making accurate record keeping much more feasible.

Many companies have already discovered that GPS vehicle tracking devices can save them money by monitoring fuel usage, fleet vehicle routes, and employee time usage. By creatively applying GPS technology to other areas of the workday, they can continue to save thousands of dollars each year and operate their businesses more efficiently.

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