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As it owns its extensive communication network, it can offer a far higher level of service than other GPS/GSM based tracking systems. Competing tracking systems use GSM networks as ‘just another phone subscriber’, and any SMS positional information must wait in the queue, along with all other messages waiting to be sent (Honey, I will be late home from work tonight). On network congestion, their tracking data may be delayed several hours, which effectively renders these systems useless for real-time monitoring. Vodafone tracking communicates positional information DIRECTLY through its network in real time as ‘priority’ traffic, effectively bypassing the traditional waiting queue.

Coverage - Vodafone tracking uses the widely used GSM phone network to relay information, hence the system works in virtually all metropolitan areas and connecting roads throughout Australia. The system has also been designed to connect to the Vodafone GlobalStar network, and will soon offer 100% national coverage, including remote locations with no GSM coverage. Some non-GPS based systems offer very limited coverage areas such as Sydney and Brisbane only.

Accuracy - Using differential GPS, positions are error corrected in real time resulting in positional accuracy of around 5 meters. Other GPS tracking systems simply use raw GPS data and are far less accurate (25m). Non-GPS (radio) systems usually offer accuracy of only 100m in the suburbs, and much less accuracy in built up areas such as the CBD.

Access - Traditional GPS/GSM tracking systems, are known as peer to peer, where a transponder must communicate with a client-supplied dedicated receiver unit. Should this receiver fail, or there be network congestion, the transponder is useless and no information can be gained. Vodafone is unique in its use of a central hub. The hub receives the tracking data centrally, and it is distributed in a variety of ways, including:
  • Via direct dial-up through a UUNET server
  • By telephoning the 24 Vodafone tracking control centre
  • Connecting directly with the transponder unit in a data download
  • Through the Internet
  • Receiving information via mobile phone SMS on designated schedules

Quality - Orchid tracking relies on the proven technologies of mobile phones and the GPS system. The transponder units are manufactured in high volume by the same factories that produce mobile phone handsets, and hence are subject to rigorous quality assurance systems. Some other tracking systems supply units assembled by hand, which result in lower quality equipment, as well as delays in their supply.

Installations - Vodafone tracking is a premium product, and the company is committed to quality installations. A strictly controlled accreditation program is in place to ensure the high quality of such installations, and the honesty of installers. Some competing tracking systems have no such accreditation programs, resulting in poor installations and other problems such as vehicles being mysteriously stolen or broken into, shortly after being fitted by ‘questionable’ installers. Vodafone ensures its installations are fitted by licensed, competent professionals, whose integrity is without question.

Size - Vodafone tracking units are tiny compared with any other competing units available. Significant research and development by the same teams designing mobile phone handset technology have resulted in miniature transponder units. The transponder unit is only slightly larger than a wallet, with an antenna unit half the size of a CD case. Competing transponder units from other companies are much larger. The miniature units from Vodafone are lighter, and more importantly can be concealed far more effectively for high security, and covert installations.

Power - Vodafone units require a fraction of the power that is used by competitors. This reduces strain on vehicle batteries, and enables portable tracking systems, which are not wired in to the vehicle’s power (Trailer tracking option). Advanced ‘standby’ modes further reduce power consumption. Radio based tracking systems require relatively significant power from the transponders to communicate. The massive coverage of the GSM base stations means the Vodafone transponders need only transmit short distances. Unlike other GPS/GSM based tracking systems, Vodafone uses advanced compression techniques to fit 10 spots (position, speed, heading) on one SMS if required, which dramatically reduces costs over units which can only send one spot per SMS.

Battery - Despite their small size, Vodafone transponders have onboard power backup for approximately 24Hrs. This enables them to report back information even if the vehicle’s battery is cut off. Other tracking systems are useless as soon as their power supply is cut, while Vodafone transponders continue tracking the most important period of time, being shortly after the vehicle is stolen.

Memory - With on board flash memory storage, the unit stores 5000 spots, with each spot recording location, speed, heading and odometer. The unit overwrites old data with new, ensuring the last 5000 spots are always available for analysis. If you designate a polling frequency of every 10 minutes say, the unit will record over a month of data, showing exactly where it was, how fast it was travelling, and in what direction, anytime of the day or night for the last four weeks. Few competing systems have on board memory, which can be a valuable tool to look back and analyse what has happened or where a vehicle was going.

Integration - Vodafone tracking is fully integrated with user inputs and outputs, and these are also software configurable by users. Set up the transponder to notify you if the vehicle alarm is activated, or send the transponder a signal to perform some action remotely, such as unlock the vehicle central locking, or disable the engine if stolen.

Accessories - Vodafone tracking currently offers a range of accessories to complement the system, including:
  • Panic Button. Tiny, ‘driver-worn’ panic alarm with a range of 100m from the vehicle. When activated, sends an immediate alarm signal to the control centre, including exact vehicle location.
  • Handset. Use the fitted transponder as a high-power (3 watts) in-car telephone. Why pay for a separate car-phone system? Unit can also be fitted with restricted dial buttons to limit costs, such as ‘Call BASE/ OFFICE/SUPERVISOR etc’. The system uses advanced technology that enables simultaneous voice and SMS traffic over the one SIM card to ensure tracking feature is not disrupted by voice calls.
  • Data Terminal. Communicate with drivers via SMS, using the Vodafone high-priority SMS system. Messages are delivered instantly without ever being delayed in network congestion queues. Dash mounted screens enable easy reading of information by drivers. Designated and configurable buttons enable instant driver response back to client computer, with standard phrases such as ‘Delayed in traffic’ or ‘Please ring client to advise I am imminent’ etc.
  • Trailer Tracking Unit. Remote tracking transponder, with 7 days battery power built-in to a secure unit. Can be fitted to trailers etc independent of the vehicle electrical system.
  • Portable Track. Still under development. Portable unit uses cigarette lighter socket for power, antenna placed on dashboard. Enables tracking of vehicles not normally fitted with permanent installations.
  • Covert Track. Still under development. Uses high power magnetic mounts to secure transponder underneath suspect vehicles in seconds, with GPS/GSM antenna fitted in plastic bumper cavity. Used primarily for law enforcement, tracking vehicles covertly. (Option to include live-mic voice output from vehicle, if appropriate warrant permits listening device)

The Vodafone operating software is advanced and very user friendly. It is both powerful and functional, enabling a high degree of reporting and configuration – giving you the power of information about your vehicles as well as the ability to respond to incidents. Maps can be zoomed continuously on-screen from the entire country down to a single street, and multiple vehicles can be seen on screen at once. Detailed reports can be easily produced showing for example monthly kilometres driven, average speeds / top speeds, suburbs visited, driving times, waiting times and more. Ignition on / off times and dates are logged automatically.

Demo - A comprehensive demo of the Orchid Software is provided on this web-site. Click here to visit the demo page.

Mapping - At significant cost, Vodafone tracking has purchased the full rights to the data set of the three main suppliers of digital mapping in Australia, and has combined them into one unified map. This includes street level mapping of over 40 000 Australian towns. Vodafone offers this map set to users, enabling you to identify (by street name) exactly where a transponder unit is, regardless if it is in the Sydney CBD, or on a country road 50km south of Darwin. The Vodafone map set includes street number ranges, enabling you to identify a vehicle is ‘Parked on Parramatta Rd, Auburn, between property numbers 221 and 255’

Reporting - Besides monitoring vehicles on maps in real-time, Vodafone tracking offers powerful reporting features. This summarises important information, giving you just the information you need in a concise, text report. Reports are user configurable, and cover any specified time frame.
  • Working hours summary. Shows the duration of each vehicles working shift, daily, from first ignition to last park. Specify the standard shift hours and the report will show how much overtime (or under time) the vehicle is working. Summarised over a period of time, this clearly shows which vehicle (or driver) is working long hours, and who is consistently working unusually short shifts!
  • Average speed summary. Shows average speed and kilometre distance travelled by each vehicle. Who is speeding? Who travels the furthest distance each shift?
  • Load times exception summary. Summarises time spent on site vs. off site. Specify the expected average loading time, then clearly see which vehicles consistently load the slowest, and which are fastest. Identify congestion or loading issues.
  • Stop vs. client summary. Very powerful! Designate and ‘name’ specific points on the map. When vehicles park near these locations, the report logs it as a ‘visit’ to that location. Report provides a text list of vehicle activities, including time, date, parked time etc, together with the specific location attended by name – I.E. Office/Home/Loading dock/Client XYZ/Client ABC etc. Report also indicates stops at locations not expected or marked on the map. Why did driver 32 stop in Fairfield for 48 minutes last Wednesday, when this location is not near any company clients?
  • Low speed summary. Identify which vehicles are travelling very slowly or not at all, and for how long and when. On plant equipment where drivers are paid by the hour of use (steam roller etc) this may indicate the vehicle is running, but not being used correctly, and indicated possible fraud. On a delivery vehicle, this may indicate possible congestion issues at loading docks with excessive wait times. Identify and reduce low speed vehicle activity and immediately save money on fuel bills and vehicle maintenance.

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