iPad Tracking App
If you’ve visited any town centre or supermarket recently, you may well have seen people taking surveys or signing people up to services using an iPad rather than pencil and paper or with the traditional laptop. The last 18 months has seen a huge increase in the use of iPads as data collection tools.
But if you have a fleet of iPads or iPad Minis out in the field, how do you ensure that they are where they are supposed to be and protect them from theft? The answer is to employ an iPad Tracking App like Vismo. This app can be deployed to a fleet of devices allowing them to continually report in their location. The locations can then be viewed and analysed in a secure website for the entire fleet. Instantly, management has a way of ensuring that the iPads aren’t somewhere they shouldn’t be.
To test out such a system, Vismo is offering a free 7 day trial on its website.
However prevalent the threat to personnel may be, wherever you are in the world, the threat of theft or loss of smartphones is a constant problem. In addition to the cost element, the phone may also contain sensitive information such as emails etc. Using BES on BlackBerry or an MDM (Mobile Device Management) can give you remote lock and wipe facilities to prevent this – but only once you’re aware it’s stolen. Clearly having the device with tracking software like Vismo onboard will make it easier to flag when a device goes off-reservation. But is there another way to protect against device loss, theft or damage?
One way would be to rent a device for the trip. A company like Cellhire offers international phone rental and can provide everything from standard cell phones to BlackBerry and even smartphones like Android and iPhone. They can also provide the airtime. Given the fact that different areas of the world operate different network types (GSM, CDMA, WCDMA) and different frequencies, there is a comfort to be had by knowing you’ve got a device tailored for that country. Also, you’re not having to buy new stock for a one-off trip. The devices come with an optional daily charge for cover, should you lose them which makes it a cost-effective solution.
Being able to track someone using their mobile phone is a great way to ensure that they always have the device with them. However, there is inevitably a trade off between battery life and location frequency. For someone that spends a lot of time on the phone every last percentage of battery life is crucial, especially in the present climate where smartphones are lucky to last 24 hours without needing a charge.
So what can be done as an alternative? There are some excellent discrete GPS personal trackers that have much long battery lives and give just as effective locating frequency. The VM200 and 300 from Vismo offer a battery life of between 5 and 9 days depending on location frequency but up to every 15 minutes. At that level, the devices can be primed for a business trip and never need charging.
The devices are also excellent for children on a trip abroad that don’t have time (or the necessary power outlets) to be charging devices every evening. The devices are also water resistant and no bigger than a matchbox or personal pager and come with a built in panic button and low battery warning light.
Mobile phone tracking services and even personal tracking devices tend to work using a SIM card on the GSM or CDMA network. The SIM card will then transmit locations using GPRS (data) or SMS. But what if you’re sending someone to the further reaches of Antarctica, to places around the Dakar Rally or to the middle of the Australian Bush?
In these cases you’d want to take a satellite phone. These are typically very expensive so a common option is to rent or hire the devices. Satellite Phone Rental can be from as low as $200 per month or an equivalent amount per day. So if you’ve got a satellite phone, how does the tracking work because in a sat phone environment there isn’t “an app for that”.
The way it works is by using the built in locating methods of the handset. A number of the more modern devices such as the Iridium Extreme 9575, the ISat Pro or the Thuraya XT will allow the GPS location to be sent on a regular basis using SMS to a given number. Provided the GPS tracking software at the other end can interpret the message and link the number to the asset being tracked, it can plot the locations as normal. Hence instantly have a GPS Satellite Phone Tracking system.
Mobile phone tracking solutions, whether for smartphones or individual tracking units, need to communicate back to a central server. Some use SMS but if one expects to use the service internationally that can get expensive very quickly. Therefore, SMS-only services tend to be domestic to a single country.
For a roamed tracking service then GPRS data – the internet – is really the only option for regular communication. But despite the recent moves by the EU, roamed data can still be expensive so how can this be avoided.
Firstly, the choice of SIM is very imporant. If you look for an international SIM card then this can provide reasonable prices for data across a region (e.g. Europe) or the world.
Secondly, ask for the data footprint of the service involved. Most mobile phone tracking solutions will optimise the data packet size so that it is sending the minimum of data.
Lastly, check the charging structure on your SIM. Some SIMs have a per-day mechanism rather than (or in additon to) a per MB option. If this is the case you may find the daily charges far outweigh the per MB option. In most cases, you’d be better served with a low per MB price.
Vismo Smartphone Tracking on iPhone
As smartphones get smarter, the location services they provide improve all the time. In addition to simple GPS and cell tower locations, smartphones like iPhone, Android and the newer BlackBerry models will also provide better estimates when GPS isn’t available. They do this using what is broadly known as “geo-location” which is often a weighted estimate based on the proximity and signal strength from wifi access points and cell-towers. It’s not 100% perfect because mobile wi-fi access points can skew the information but it does provide a robust alternative for smartphone tracking when a device is indoors.
If you are looking for an Enterprise-level SmartPhone tracking application then something like Vismo takes full advantage of these latest advantages to provide you with good quality location fixes wherever you are in the world – indoors or outdoors. If you are visiting a place without cell coverage Vismo can also be deployed on satellite phones like the Iridium iSat Phone.
Although it may sometimes feel as it the entire world is populated with Mobile Phones, there are still many placed of the earth without any GSM coverage. Many of these areas are also the most dangerous or potentially hostile to travellers. Get into trouble here and there’s nothing around for miles.
For communications, travellers will often choose a Satellite Phone – perhaps Iridium or Thuraya. That solves the issue of communication but what about GPS Tracking?
Vismo has recently launched a tracking service for the Iridium Extreme satellite phone which providers a regular location fix and panic button facility.
However, the devices can often be expensive and if they are only used once a year for an expedition, or perhaps for contingency – such as the US Hurricane season, it can be difficult to justify the expense. The solution could be to look to rent a satellite phone from a company like Cellhire. They offer short term Iridium satellite phone rental and Thuraya devices including the Exteme and 9555. Just take it for as long as you need.
iPhones and Android phones are generally intended for use in a single domestic country where data is free or plentiful and SMS likewise. GPS Tracking software for smartphones usually relies on a mixture of 3G data and/or SMS to relay locations back to a central website. So what happens if you take that phone abroad?
Wary of the possibility of bill-shock, most people now know to click the magic “Data Roaming Off” button on an iPhone or the equivalent “Data Roaming” option on Android. But doing so could prevent a GPS location application from working at all – in the same way you can’t browser, receive emails or use MMS. Alternatively, this action could force the appication into using SMS only which again could be expensive when roaming.
The solution to this situation is an International iPhone SIM Card from a company like Cellhire which provides you with a bundle of roamed data and lower cost roamed voice/SMS calls. Such a product would enable a smartphone tracking app like Vismo to work on your iPhone whilst you are abroad without the fear of a large bill on your return.
Remember to check the model though. iPhone 3GS used full size SIMs whereas the 4G uses micro-SIMs.
For groups of users that are taking more than one phone or perhaps a laptop as well, a Mifi device offers 3G wireless connectivity to several devices in a vicinity of up to 20 feet. There’s no software to install you just connect to it like you would any wireless hotspot. These are also availalbe for rent from a company like Cellhire
Greg Martin, 29, from Texas who has worked in computer security for a variety of US agencies including NASA and the FBI, had his laptop stolen from his home in West Kensington during the riots that took place in the UK in early August 2011. His home was empty at the time of the break in.
Mr Martin had installed tracking software on his laptop and, when the machine was booted up and connected to the web, he could watch the thief via his laptop’s built-in webcam and observe the thief’s online activity. After unwittingly logging into Facebook and revealing his name to Mr Martin, all it took was a phone call to the police and the laptop was recovered.
An 18-year-old man has been charged with handling stolen goods and he is due to appear at West London magistrates’ court soon.
Read more on The Telegraph website.
One of the side-effects of having a GPS Tracking iPhone or mobile device is that should that device ever get parted from its owner, it is always possible to track its progress. The Bristol Evening post recently ran a story whereby a thief stole an iPhone and quickly tried to sell it on nearby. However, the owner had GPS tracking and was able to pinpoint the device before it was sold and alert the police.
Although the thief in this case was small-time, the approach of having passive GPS tracking inside a premium mobile device is a sound one. Whether it’s the device itself being taken – or perhaps in more serious cases, the owner himself – having that beacon transmitting the phone location can be vital to a favourable resolution.
A product like Vismo allows a company to have this peace of mind throughout all of their devices, across multiple platforms – BlackBerry, iPhone or Android.