Since the American military released its first satellites in the “Block 1” launches back in 1979 the world of navigation has been forever altered. Long ago drivers relied on maps, intuition and local knowledge to get to customers and deliveries. Today when we peer into a police car or taxi we will see an entire dashboard of navigation and communication devices. Global positioning systems have changed the way we navigate, plan and forecast our own personal and business lives, but how can we make the best use of these new tools in order to meet our business goals?
When we think of GPS we traditionally think of navigation, however these systems have much more to offer than just that. Today’s business tools can offer vehicle tracking, fuel consumption information, safety features, anti theft devices and productivity tracking. These features can be managed by an administrator and notifications can be picked up via email on any standard computer or smart phone. Along with this the level of free tools has also exploded. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo all have mapping tools which offer everything from information about local businesses to a street level view of almost all Australian roads (Google streetview).
The free tools
Business users who are new to the concept of GPS for business should first concentrate on the free tools (and maybe low cost tools) which can give them an understanding of how to make use of the free information in their local maps and environment. Here are a few of my favourites;
1. Google maps applications, including;
b. Places pages
c. My maps
d. Traffic application
e. Navigation applications
2. Yahoo maps; this is much the same as Goggles mapping service, but at times an additional perspective may help with difficult to find places.
3. Bing maps; these maps have additional features like;
a. Fuel prices
b. Parking spaces
c. Taxi fare calculator
4. Whereis.com; this is another free tool and can help with local business and services locations.
5. Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology (BOM); We can forget how important the weather is when it comes to logistics. This free service from the BOM can help companies forecast bad travel days.
6. Other traffic information sites;
With free tools a caveat must always apply; remember they may not be as up to date as you would hope.
The next steps
Once these tools are mastered, businesses should then start to consider off the shelf products like sat-navs in order to understand how much can be delivered by concise navigation. Companies should also take note of information which is offered by vehicles in their fleet. Most modern vehicles will report kilometres per litre as well as kilometres travelled, and some will offer up huge amounts of data through their onboard computers.
After these two steps have been taken business owners and/or managers should then consider more advanced business products. Choosing between tailor made and off the shelf business products can be difficult as both have considerable features and benefits.
Things to consider prior to purchasing a new GPS application:
1. How often will it be used?
2. How much do you expect it to save your business in relation to its overall cost?
3. How will it fit in with current practices?
4. How will it be received by the drivers and other stakeholders?
5. Where do you see GPS in the organisation in 4 years time (will it be involved with deeper productivity goals or will it just continue as a navigation tool)?
When you are ready to explore a new approach to GPS services consult your fleet management firm to find out how to leverage the current data on your fleet to make the best possible use from your new GPS service.
To find out more about Fleetcare’s GPS service please check out our GPS fleet tracking page.
Do you use GPS in your business?
If you use GPS in your business please tell us about it.