How to Make a GPS Tracking System for Vehicle and Fleet Tracking

Want to make your own GPS tracking system? Here is a comprehensive guide explaining its components and how to make a tracking system for fleet management.

February 10, 2021
6 mins read
Last Updated January 15, 2024
GPS Tracker

How to Make a GPS Tracking System for Vehicle and Fleet Tracking

You are probably looking at GPS tracking systems for vehicles, likely because you want to:

  • Leverage analytics to streamline operations
  • Make remote operations more transparent and easy
  • Instill new insurance models to lower risks
  • Eliminate revenue leakage with connectivity
  • Reduce theft
  • Increase operational transparency

This list goes on…

But, what I am going to show you here is not just how to make tracking device, I will also show you how exactly I helped billion dollar organizations and small businesses implement such solutions with zero risks.

That too in less than 5 months (from idea to product development to testing!).

When I got my first assignment on a fleet tracking solution, I’d to fail multiple times to know what would exactly work. And failures come with a cost!

After reading this blog post, you will not only know how to create a GPS app but also become a subject matter expert to drive such initiatives with confidence. I wish someone had written this when I was starting.

So, how do GPS-based vehicle tracking systems actually work?

GPS-based vehicle tracking systems work by using GPS satellites and cellular networks to pinpoint the location of a vehicle and transmit that data to a central monitoring system. Here’s a more detailed overview of how they work:

  • GPS tracking devices installed in the vehicle receive signals from GPS satellites orbiting the Earth. Based on the signals, the device can calculate its precise geographic coordinates at any given time.
  • The GPS device then uses cellular networks or radio frequencies to transmit the vehicle’s location data to a central monitoring server or system in real-time. This allows the vehicle to be remotely tracked as it moves.
  • The central monitoring system collects location data from the vehicles it is tracking and plots the real-time locations on a digital map. Fleet managers can access this information via web or mobile apps to see where all their vehicles are at any time.

Benefits of using vehicle GPS tracking

GPS tracking devices, installed under the driver’s side dashboard, provide precise location data and essential diagnostics when synced with mobile devices.

They promote driver accountability and safe habits, offering maintenance insights like oil change history, fuel consumption, and battery health.

Let’s look at the business benefits of using vehicle GPS tracking:

  1. Increased efficiency: By having real-time location data on all vehicles, businesses can better coordinate and schedule jobs, routes, and staff. This helps optimize operations and reduce costs.
  2. Improved asset utilization: Tracking vehicle locations and usage gives insights into how vehicles are being used. Underutilized assets can be reassigned or sold.
  3. Enhanced driver performance: Tracking driver behaviors like speeding, rapid acceleration/deceleration, and unnecessary idling helps managers identify problems and coach drivers about unsafe or wasteful driving habits.
  4. Reduced fuel consumption: Monitoring vehicle data can help identify fuel waste and inefficiencies. Managers can train drivers on techniques to reduce excessive fuel usage.
  5. Improved customer service: Accurate location and arrival time data allows companies to provide more precise ETAs and better respond to customers.
  6. Increased security: Real-time tracking means vehicles can be quickly located if they are lost, stolen or used without authorization. Geo-fences can help alert managers if vehicles go outside designated areas.

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Types of GPS tracking systems

Broadly, GPS vehicle tracking systems can be of three types:

  • Cellular tracking: Cellular tracking has a lower initial setup cost but requires monthly fees. It provides location updates every five to ten minutes. It’s accessible through accompanying software on the internet.
  • Wireless passive tracking: Wireless Passive tracking involves a one-time setup cost but can be expensive. You can retrieve information once the vehicle returns to the depot. Some modern passive systems offer real-time information with added modems, providing details like vehicle speed and stops without monthly fees.
  • Satellite-based tracking: Satellite-based tracking offers nationwide coverage, making it suitable for shipping and trucking companies. It can be costly, and monthly fees vary based on the level of detail required.

Now that you know the types of vehicle GPS tracking systems are, let’s look at the components involved in making these solutions.

Talking at a very high level, we have the following components that are part of a GPS-based vehicle tracking solution:

  • A phone or a hardware-based GPS receiver
  • A casing that holds your hardware
  • Car adapter – You can actually have a design where you won’t even need an adapter
  • Firmware that helps this hardware to work
  • Direct power supply or an inbuilt rechargeable battery
  • Cellular or BLE connection module
  • Cloud application

What GPS tracking features people like to use?

Some of the features that GPS vehicle tracking systems bring to the table are:

  • Fuel mileage optimization: Many companies use algorithmic optimization for greener fleet operations. But how do miles correlate with gas consumption? You would be shocked to see how much driving patterns, misuse, and engine conditions impact fuel level consumption.
  • Customizable alerts: An effective GPS tracking solution offers custom alerts for route deviations, idle periods, unnecessary stops, maintenance requirements, and instances of speeding. These alerts optimize operational efficiency and facilitate business expansion. For instance, idle alerts minimize fuel wastage, while route alerts prevent theft.
  • Trip history tracking: This feature monitors all vehicle journeys, helping identify unauthorized trips or deviations from optimal routes. It provides data on distance, acceleration, idle times, and stoppage locations. Utilizing this data saves on fuel costs through efficient trip planning and monitoring of driver activities.
  • Integration Capabilities: GPS systems effortlessly connect with diverse software applications, like fleet management and dispatch systems, streamlining operations and enhancing overall productivity. This seamless integration empowers users to optimize fleet routes, allocate resources efficiently, and respond promptly to customer needs, resulting in heightened service quality and significant cost savings.
  • ETA and PODs: ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) and PODs (Proof of Delivery) are essential in modern GPS tracker software. Users need quick access to delivery details. ETA updates track shipment arrivals, and PODs confirm successful deliveries. You can request these features from your solution provider.

How can you make your own GPS tracking system?

A GPS tracking system is a combination of hardware and software components that puts you in the driver’s seat, of course, metaphorically. This means, your vehicles will be installed with cellular devices, plug-and-play port devices, and sensors that are connected to software that’ll monitor a driver’s behavioral patterns, track a vehicle’s health, run diagnostics among other functions. What’s more, you could also leverage emerging technologies like IoT (Internet-of-Things) and cloud computing to build intuitive, user-friendly software, but let me get to that in my final segment.

For now, let’s understand the dynamics of the hardware and software employed in a GPS vehicle tracking system software: 

GPS Vehicle-tracking Hardware

First, you need to install functional hardware in your vehicles. The hardware component is responsible for transmitting the data to and fro between satellites and software. It uses an analog system to send and receive the data and digital pattern for displaying the information to the users. Hardware components vary from system to system. It also depends on one’s budget constraints and essential requirements.

Anywho, here’s a list of the main hardware components you’d need for a GPS system:

  • Microcontroller units: A small computer on an integrated circuit for memory and I/O peripherals. 
  • GPS module: A GPS device built with tiny processors and antennas to receive the satellite data and timestamps. 
  • GSM module: A global system for mobile communication that works as a mobile device establishes contact with a computer. 
  • Relay circuit: An electronic control device integrated with a GPS tracker app to communicate with the vehicle’s engine. 
  • Display screen: A display screen for monitoring the location of vehicles.

The system establishes communication between the satellite and the device once the vehicle’s hardware is installed. Businesses get important data about their vehicles with the Global Navigation Satellite System network’s help. Among these, speed, location, and time are essential information. This data is transmitted through satellites to the GPS-enabled devices, and the fleet owners/managers can read the information from the installed devices at the monitoring locations. 

 GPS Vehicle-tracking Software 

Before exploring GPS tracking solutions, assessing whether your business needs tailor-made software or can efficiently utilize readily available products is essential.

Custom solutions provide precise insights but come with a higher price tag. Often, businesses start with off-the-shelf software and subsequently make significant investments in customization.

Here are some challenges associated with off-the-shelf solutions:

  1. Limited Suitability: Off-the-shelf solutions may not fully align with your unique requirements.
  2. Lack of Flexibility: Pre-packaged solutions can be rigid and impede adaptability.

Vehicle GPS tracking architecture

IoT data exchange and presentation

Cloud gateways receive information from IoT devices and process this data into valuable business insights. They then display these insights on the user’s dashboard.

For example, a smartwatch, functioning as an IoT device, can receive notifications. In this scenario, it uses the internet through a mobile device to connect to a service provider, retrieve information from the phone, and present it on the watch.

Connected vehicle systems

Connected-vehicle systems rely on serverless IoT architectures like AWS Greengrass to synchronize data with connected devices/vehicles, ensure secure communication, and execute predictive operations. This facilitates tasks such as collecting trip data, enhancing driver safety, and delivering notifications.

How to make GPS Tracking System 1

 

At Simform, we develop IoT-compliant software using low-energy Bluetooth, radio protocols, WiFi-Direct, and Radio Frequency Identification. We also utilize various sensors to fetch real-time data like:

  • Temperature and humidity sensors
  • Proximity sensors
  • Gas sensors
  • AI and ML-powered sensors
  • Level sensors

Software as the brain

While sensors are essential for IoT activities, the software serves as the central intelligence. It handles business logic, manages fleets, transfers data, analyzes information, and updates entity status.

High-level fleet software customizations use potent backend languages like Python, JavaScript, and RoR, with support from frameworks like Django and Node.
Frontend frameworks like Angular and React are vital for creating user-friendly interfaces in IoT fleet management apps.

Cloud computing and APIs

Cloud solutions like IBM Watson and AWS IoT enhance IoT connectivity in software projects. They provide comprehensive support for scalability, data connectivity, AI programming, and multi-cloud integration.

Creating custom fleet solutions demands robust API integrations. Developers and backend engineers establish connections between wireless devices and service providers to exchange data across devices, clouds, and wireless networks.

IoT APIs enable various functions like cloud connection, data interface linking, sensor communication, and secure data transfer and retrieval.

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How much does it cost to build GPS tracking system?

The cost of developing a GPS fleet tracking system can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the complexity of the desired features and the location of your chosen development vendor.

Here are the cost estimates to build your own gps tracker:

  • The cost typically ranges from $50,000 to $65,000 for an android gps tracking app or iphone gps tracking applications.
  • If you wish to integrate advanced features and complex design into a GPS tracking app, the development cost can exceed $1,05,000 to $1,55,000.
  • For cross-platform location-tracking service applications that include complex app user interfaces and geofencing functionalities, the cost is generally $2,05,000 to $2,85,000.

Conclusion

The reason businesses opt for customized business solutions is its scalability along with the core business benefits. Popular benefits include optimized fuel consumption, time management, remote fleet management, scheduled deliveries, delighted customer experiences, and more.

Making your own GPS-based custom software certainly allows you to add functionalities in the future as your business’s scope increases. Though it was an expensive and time-consuming process earlier, the latest technologies have made it cost-effective and welcoming. They are optimized to make it an effortless experience with reduced time-to-market.

Approach the right technical teams, seek knowledge and guidance from technology experts, and feel free to reach out to know how to make a tracker in GPS. You can also download our ebook on customized fleet management software and reach out to me at hardik@simform.com or connect on Twitter.

Working from last 10+ years into consumer and enterprise mobility, Hardik leads large scale mobility programs covering platforms, solutions, governance, standardization and best practices.

  1. Afizatul husna binti azhar

    Thank you sir for this writing, it blown my mind. Do you conduct any technical workshop regarding IOT? If any? I have a final year project which incur me to seek for more knowledge in IOT, thanks in advance.

  2. Fleetin

    I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Remokok

    Very nice information, Thanks

  4. Manish

    One will hardly find better explanation for GPS Tracking device, excellent.

  5. manish narula

    It is a good explanation indeed. I am looking for some API which can simulate a vehicle moving. I suppose that is important to start with and no one is looking at that elephant in the room.

  6. Chibotu

    Thank you for providing such needed information..

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