GPS technology dates back to the 1990s, making use of orbiting satellites to allow the tracking of objects on the Earth’s surface. Often, GPS is used so that a driver can find accurate directions to go somewhere, but GPS’s applications are broader than that. Fleet management is possible with fleet GPS tracking systems, a vital part of the larger geospatial data analysis industry. Many Canadian cities today have their own fleet of commercial vehicles, most often snow plows, and these commercial vehicles need coordination. If a city like Montreal gets heavy snow that blocks traffic, commercial vehicles must arrive on the scene at once to clear it all away. With the aid of GPS and a team of geospatial data analysis experts, these commercial vehicles can get an efficient job done every time. How does this work? And what else can GPS be used for?
GPS and Snow Plows
A major arena for GPS tech in Canada is snow plows, as mentioned above. They have plenty of work to do; Canada’s top ten snowiest cities all average more than 55 days of snow per year when two or more millimitres of snow falls. This can block traffic and pedestrian traffic alike, so snow plows are deployed in large numbers. Montreal alone uses 172 commercial vehicles for this work, and 188 to clear up the sidewalks.
The problem is coordination. Without GPS and geospatial data analysis, all of these snow plows are operating independently, and they may accidentally overlap their areas of work, or the may struggle to find new areas to plow that no other snow plows have yet reached. And if a snow plow operator can’t find more work on their own, they will simply idle, and that wastes fuel. Many state and local governments across Canada impose fines for wasteful actions like this, and idling vehicles are polluting Canada’s air the entire time. That, and it’s simply a waste of a snow plow’s potential effort.
Fortunately, GPS fleet systems prevent that sort of sloppy work. Even a large snow plow fleet like Montreal’s will be well coordinated and efficient when GPS trackers are planted in each vehicle, and geospatial data analysis crews will make good use of it. In this way, each plow vehicle will be assigned an area for work, and each vehicle’s movement will be tracked in real time. In this way, all areas of a city can be plowed in good time, and no vehicle is sitting around idle. Not to mention how GPS tracking helps prevent snow plows from accidentally getting in each other’s way. Thanks to efforts like this, even large Canadian cities can clear snow away fast. Montreal, in particular, reports that for a seven-inch snowfall, it takes under five days to plow it all away. If there is a foot of snow, five solid days of work are needed, but given the volume of snow present, that may be quite impressive work.
Other Uses of GPS
It is clear that GPS is vital for fleet management among snow plow fleets, but GPS doesn’t stop there. Many mobile electronic devices such as laptops, smart phones, and the like also have tags in them that track their location and movement, and send this data to geospatial data analysts. Why? Many people carry such items with them, and this allows marketers to track the movement of consumers in real time, and thus adjust their marketing strategies as needed. The frequent use of mobile, Internet-capable devices is known as the Internet of Things, and tracking consumers is one aspect of that.
Businesses and rescue vehicle operators use GPS for other purposes, too. A business will invest a lot of money in a company jet or car, so when an employee uses it, that GPS tracker constantly informs the owner of the vehicle’s location. This ensures that the vehicle is not being misused for some other purpose, and if the vehicle is damaged, lost, or stolen, it can be recovered with relative ease. Many other commercial vehicles such as semi trucks, or private cars, also have GPS trackers in them, which makes them easy for search and rescue teams to find. This can save many lives.