Wireless Tool Keeps Super Bowl Players In View
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Everywhere the Giants and Patriots went on a bus during Super Bowl week, including daily practices or media events, the team's security forces knew when players and staff arrived, when they departed and where the buses were at every second of the day and night.
They even knew how fast the bus traveled at any given moment.
Thanks to a hybrid wireless GPS system developed by US Fleet Tracking, running on a network from KORE Telematics and using Google mapping as well as cellular services, the location of players and staff while they were on their respective buses was under constant surveillance and monitoring. The application in play is machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, which industry analysts say is taking off both in the business enterprise and the consumer environment.
While the sports franchise is clearly one of the technology's prominent users, the tracking tool is grabbing traction everywherefrom home security surveillance to ensuring million-dollar freight deliveries arrive at the right warehouse, to determining that the pizza delivery boy just hired isn't stopping by OTB in between stops.
As US Fleet Tracking President Jerry Hunter explained to InternetNews.com, the service, which costs $30 per device a month, goes way beyond traditional GPS location and tracking functionality. The Web-based application lets users call directly to a device and generates data points on everything from time and location to vehicle acceleration rates and even advanced security alert features.
For example a user can create a 'fenced' zone using Web-based aerial mapping software and be alerted if a vehicle, or person carrying the device, enters that prohibited area.
In one use, a construction company 'fenced' homes under construction to track vehicles in and out of the work area. Using the device data reports, the company then reviewed weekly time sheets. The first week of use showed disparate information, with employees claiming full workdays when the data showed their actual job site time was closer to half a day in some cases.
"It lets companies track and monitor and also determine more efficient processes and mechanisms for greater productivity for both the business and the employee base," says Hunter. Cost justification is easy, he adds, once companies have the data whether it's on work activity, vehicle use or product inventory tracking.
"The typical return on investment for our customers is within the first two to three weeks of service," he says.
In one case, a company tracked actual vehicle fleet use, and determined that delivery routes were inefficientwhich meant higher fuel costs, greater wear and tear on vehicles and increased maintenance costs. By using the data the business adjusted schedules and routes, saving on everything from gas and manpower to insurance costs.
"There are lots of benefits to this technology. It compliments GPS but it also takes GPS to the next level," says Sam Lucero, senior analyst covering M2M connectivity for ABI Research. "Right now the application is still quite fragmented but many people would be surprised how sophisticated systems are and development is increasing"
Sophistication is exactly what's happening at US Fleet Tracking. Hunter is readying a wearable wireless device, in three separate form factors, that can be used for a wide variety of needs. The 3/8-inch thick and four-inch tall device (about the size of an iPod Nano) can be used for a wide range of needs. It can be a security ankle bracelet for law enforcement purposes or a monitor for athletes who want to keep track of their pace and routes on workouts.
"You can drop it into the $20,000 box of goods you're delivering overnight and avoid paying the typical $800 insurance you pay now to make sure you know where it ends up," says Hunter, a software engineer who wrote initial software version.
That kind of supply chain efficiency is compelling adoption, notes Lucero.
"For the business, this provides improved operational efficiencies while decreasing costs. I don't see a huge step change coming with the technology but I expect it will even get more sophisticated as it's more widely deployed." He adds that M2M technology is clearly moving away from being a niche application to becoming an integral tool for strategic business planning.
"Vendors are finding themselves talking with CTOs now, not just fleet or operations people, about the application. Corporate leaders want in on the conversation as they see it can be an integral business tool that bring value," adds the analyst.