In this series we will present you ideas of improving your companies IT – without paying a fortune for software license tools. Most of the presented solutions are based on free open source programs, combined with individual programming for the individual use case presented.

It is part of a series showing prototype installations – with a limited amount of time invested (a so-called “weekend-project”). If interested in more, also read Open Weekend #2: Online Hotel Reservation System

In this series we will present you ideas of improving your companies IT – without paying a fortune for software license tools. Most of the presented solutions are based on free open source programs, combined with individual programming for the individual use case presented.  

A few days ago I met a friend, who is working in a company that has a lot of external meetings with clients. What he mentioned seemed to be a classic nightmare for every disposition: It was never clear where the external workforce was at a given time of day – and what jobs they can accomplish at this day. Even with good planning Bangkok traffic jam was an unpredictable factor.

Actually the solution was obvious for me. However for his small company it firstly seemed to not be affordable : A paid employee tracking system with GPS onboard is a large investment only enterprise companies can do. I decided to give it a try, and start to create a small solution in a weekend project. After some preparating it was ready for a first test. On the one side I had my girlfriend as a moving target – on the other side we both had smartphones.

After some bribing and begging she finally handed me over her smartphone. I then was in the temporary possession of an android, and IOS based GPS device, yay! A while later I handed her phone back to her, and waited for the next day. Finally I could then say to her “Honey, I go and buy some things around here. You find a good restaurant, and I will join you later.”

"See you later..."

"Food ? Check!"

"Dessert? Check!"

"Wine? Check!"

"Girlfriend? Check!"

Of course I told afterwards how I did this – and turned of the client software. The app works silently in the background, so the only hint was the GPS – Sign in her phone.

The next Sunday I had the opportunity for a second field test. We have been invited to a friend in another province, for part of the way I turned on the GPS.

As a side note: Maybe you noticed when using Mapping Software, that GPS communication drains battery power. GPS devices need to communicate with three or four satellites to get the position data. Mobile devices prolong their battery life because they can quickly enter into sleep states. Map Services query for their position quite often, which prevents this form of energy saving. For my tests I decided to lower the polling interval to one location update every 5 minutes. On my phone the battery drain seemed to be almost the same as without GPS.

If it is not necessary to have a very detailed overview of the used this settings seemed to be a good compromise. The drawback is that when looking at the route data you will not see actual taken way.

Of course it is possible to create different statistics over your trip onwards. The following screenshot shows the average speed for one trip.

If you do invest some time and resources on it, it is also possible to get an estimation of other data. Take a truck as an example, which uses 26 litres of Diesel at 100 km/h, 32 litres at 110 km/h and 30 at 50 km/h. If you ever wondered why one driver uses more gasoline then average you find out the reason.

With a modern GPS System you can also group your drivers into different categories. In this solution 18 different categories are preconfigured, and show up with different icons in the global map overview.

For a productive installation it is possible necessary to add additional groups (e.g. light/medium/heavy truck, food/flatbed/refrigerator truck).

Also it maybe is necessary to add additional languages like Thai, or connect the system to your local infrastructure (e.g. create a link to your time management or disposition programs).

If you want to try out a GPS solution by yourself, we help your IT to get things going. For a first glance we offer you free test installation on our infrastructure at no charge. Just fill out the below form – and start tracking.

GPS Tracker

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