Since the commercial introduction of the global positioning system (GPS) over 20 years ago, the technology has dropped significantly in price, while improving in quality. And as satellite mapping and computer imagery continue to advance, so will the capabilities and applications for GPS tracking software.

For business it’s a no-brainer, with tracking providing fleet management solutions that improve efficiencies and save money but for the consumer space, what new functions can GPS perform?

Smartphones today boast an embedded GPS and a range of other location-based applications so driving to an unknown destination has never been easier – thankfully we’re no longer limited to the relatively bulky personal navigation devices characteristic of the early 2000s.

The concept of the connected car is already a reality globally and according to Doug Newcomb, US author and car technology expert, consumers now see technology as a major factor in the purchase of their car. The result is that manufacturers are increasingly using technology as a key competitive advantage.

Tracker’s Marketing and Strategy director, Michael du Preez, says, “Technology helps us to address consumer needs more effectively and so Tracker has transitioned from ‘metal to flesh’, placing the driver’s changing needs at the centre of our focus. Along with recovering vehicles, we now use the same technology to offer a host of value added services to consumers, all of which improve safety and convenience.”

Tracker’s sophisticated, internet-based tracking solution, SkyTrax, was designed to protect people, not just vehicles. Using GPS technology, Tracker SkyTrax can locate a vehicle within an accuracy range of just five meters and being web-based, an individual – or their family members – can locate their own vehicle online, at any time.

The technology has in fact enabled a host of additional useful functions for drivers – most of which offer convenience and above all, safety. With South Africa’s crime levels, particularly those that involve vehicles, exceeding those of many other countries, access to additional services that assist in personal safety are proving popular.

Others types of services, enabled by GPS include:

* SMS car guard – ideal for peace of mind when parking out particularly at night, this service allows the driver to lock the stationery position of their car using their mobile phone. The driver will receive an SMS if the car moves.

* Connected roadside assistance: this functionality means that a driver will receive timeous roadside assistance in the event of a number of unforeseen circumstances such as running out of fuel, experiencing a flat tyre or flat battery, locking keys inside the vehicle, requiring towing and many more.

* SMS position request – a useful service particularly for parents of children that drive, this enables you to request the latest position and status of your vehicle, via your cell phone, at any time of the day.

* My safe zones – another key service for families, this enables the zoning of safe places their children travel to and from as well as places considered unsafe. By zoning, Geo-fencing or demarcating areas, a parent can assist in ensuring a vehicle remains in the go-zone they have demarcated as “safe”.
Any violation of these rules will result in the parent being notified so they can proactively identify possible abnormal driver activity, a theft or hi-jacking situation and take the necessary steps to inform Tracker of this.

Du Preez says, “For those clients with a Tracker device fitted to their vehicle, additional services that offer tailored security solutions was a natural progression for Tracker and so our focus moved from vehicle to driver. SkyTrax, the internet-based tracking solution is approved by major insurers and motor manufacturers and it’s a comprehensive service we’re particularly proud of.”

While personal safety is a key concern for many South Africans, nobody wants to have their freedom restricted. Having mobility and being able to move freely is one of modern society’s perks. Technology applications that use GPS enable this freedom because they give parents and other individuals access to a wealth of information that assists in personal safety.