Fire Side Chat: GPS Can Get Your Business Where It Needs to Be

There is no denying that GPS (global positioning system) offers a number of benefits worth noting. This includes technicians and delivery personnel that use it for navigation as they travel from one service call to another. Security companies also use it in tracking their fleet of vehicles, employees and equipment.

While GPS has proven itself to some people, there are others who see this unique technology in an entirely different light. Everywhere you look GPS is there, from the navigational system in a motor vehicle to the cell phone each one of us carries with us day to day.

This month, we’ll take a quick look at GPS technology, how alarm dealers can use it, and ways in which GPS navigation has failed some who have inadvertently placed an overabundance of confidence in it (see sidebar).

Ubiquitous Navigational Tool
Probably the widest use of GPS is mobile navigation. For example, fire and security technicians as well as sales personnel employ it in their everyday travels. Instead of trusting any number of Internet-based sources for a map, GPS navigation systems are designed to show and tell them exactly where their destination is, turn by turn and road by road.

Besides navigational purposes, GPS navigation also enables emergency operations to quickly determine the location of a 911 caller. Some models can be used to establish a technician’s relative position. This is handy when a paramedic is unfamiliar with the roads.  “I work in petrochemical facilities and in a broadcasting station where I use GPS to locate items. I use it when I fill out permits and reports and I use it when I do investigations for insurance companies and other concerns,” says Nick Markowitz, owner of Markowitz Electric Protection of Verona, Pa.

Congress originally mandated the deployment of GPS tracking chips in all new cell phones after cell networks switched from analog to digital technology. The intent was to maintain tracking capability of cell phone users, especially where it involves 911 calls. Where analog technology inherently provided this kind of information, digital did not. However, this situation has changed as the technology advanced and service providers made necessary changes to their cellular transmission systems.

Service Vehicle Fleet Optimization
Company managers and owners also can put GPS to work in tracking their motor fleet. The objective here is to optimize operations by identifying potential problems. It also enables the dispatch of service technicians on trouble calls based on location and availability.

“All of our trucks are outfitted with GPS so the office can [route] technicians on emergency calls based on whoever is the closest,” says Ken Oberst, senior service technician with Integrated Protection Services Inc. of Cincinnati.

Through GPS it’s possible to receive real-time reports on present location, speed and more.

“GPS tracking, reporting and alert units have been used in cross-country trucking for years because of the values involved. Today, new GPS units are less expensive and available to smaller companies that need similar protections but have not been able to justify the expense,” says Morgan Fairlamb, GPS manager and new business development manager with GMT Consulting of Aurora, Colo. Using GPS makes it possible to determine the average length of time vehicles sit, with or without the motor idling. It’s also possible to determine each stop vehicles make during the course of a day, week or month. All of this is accessible on the GPS service provider’s secure Web site.

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About the Author


Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.

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