How to Develop a GPS Tracking System and Why Do You Need One?

Whether you’re running a delivery or truck company, a limo service, or a car rental business, you want to track your assets (read vehicles). Wondering how you can do that? A GPS tracking system for commercial transportation will do the trick for you.

However, you should never create a GPS tracking solution just for the sake of it. When developed in a rickety way, it may do more harm than good. Botched systems may derail your assets while leaving your business in the red due to inaccurate vehicle tracking.

In this article, we draw on our first-hand experience to define what makes a decent vehicle tracking system and map out a way to develop it. Acropolium has been around since 2003, and we never churn out software solutions. Instead, we steadfastly build value with custom ones. This is our way to drive substantial savings for your business.

Read on to look at the latest vehicle tracking system trends and the game-changing IoT impact. We’ll also dig deep into the must-have features for your solution and the steps of vehicle fleet tracking software development. Even if you aren’t much of a tech-savvy person, don’t fret. What sounds confusing now is going to be clear by the time you finish reading it.

We’ve delivered plenty of vehicle tracking software projects. Some were systems that gathered real-time and historical data from various devices, while others were software we designed and developed for the client’s hardware. So we know a thing or two about building vehicle tracking apps.” Co-founder quote.

6 Trends that shape vehicle tracking in 2021-2023

Real-time fleet management is one of the major vehicle tracking trends these days

The days when a vehicle GPS solution was just a location tracker are gone for good. 2021 shifts the focus well beyond whereabouts in favor of software agility, driver safety, and greener business operations.

Here’s what you may be looking for in your vehicle tracking software in the next couple of years:

Safety protocols

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt businesses, adequate protection comes first. Tracking systems can be upgraded to check your drivers’ rest periods and schedule vehicle sanitation. This is particularly important for taxi and chauffeur businesses where there’s a high risk of exposure to viruses.

Telematics

It’s not a fad but a necessity in 2021. Telematics takes your cars’ whereabouts and blends them with a bunch of insights via a specialized onboard device and a GPS receiver. This technology allows fleet operators to monitor drivers’ road habits, speed statistics, revving cases, car maintenance issues, and so much more.

Agility

Decent vehicle tracking software is the one that can adapt to any device without code touch-ups in between. No matter how you call it, a cross-platform or versatile system, you want it to pave the way for flawless map integrations and data availability across all gadgets.

Real-time vehicle tracking

Now that the world goes remote, real-time fleet tracking is here to stay. Although passive navigation systems still reign supreme for the most accurate vehicle location data, things will likely change in the near future. No one needs a tracker that updates coordinates once in a minute or so.

5G network

If all navigation systems and software made a switch to 5G, latency issues would never interfere with your fleet operations. With a 100x speed increase, this technology can help you track more vehicles and at greater distances without additional investments. 5G is a boon for large fleet management, no matter how you slice it.

Sustainable solutions

With passenger car emissions hitting their all-time high in 2020, fleet managers should take matters into their own hands. One way to lower your carbon footprint is to include vehicle mileage tracking into your system. Along with switching to electric vehicles, this can make your business greener. All these trends have cropped up amid the IoT era. That’s because IoT makes a tracking system more flexible.

How can IoT and GPS tracking go hand in hand?

IoT complements vehicle fleet tracking software development

The Internet of Things has a way of revamping industries, and vehicle tracking is no exception. Today, interconnected devices soak up GPS data like a sponge, communicate with each other, and squeeze insights into notifications.

A typical IoT vehicle tracking system relies on data from multiple sources. GPS sensors and OBD II systems are the major ones. It then juxtaposes this data with the insights from other connected vehicles in the fleet. This way, IoT allows for:

  • Road traffic prediction based on the vehicle flow, weather, and collisions
  • Real-time fleet management, including service reminders and late arrivals
  • Fleet cost reduction thanks to route planning and optimization
  • Fuel consumption control
  • Delivery tracking
  • Vehicle maintenance alerts that rest on OBD II data
  • Driving behavior monitoring

All this would be impossible without IoT. Not only that, but a tracking system should make the cut for the IoT features to be feasible. Here’s what this entails:

  • Optimized GPS/GSM module traffic. The more data your tracker collects, the more server-side traffic needs to be broken down. It’s crucial to lighten the traffic load to take the sting out of covering system operating costs.
  • Energy-efficient hardware. Ideally, your tracking system should be self-powered not to drain a vehicle’s battery. It should also use just enough energy to ensure real-time data transfer to the server.
  • Connection-independent operation. You never know how stable a connection might be when your drivers hit the road. So your vehicle tracking system should have internal memory to prevent temporary hiccups from hindering your fleet management process. That’s how it can collect and store trip-related data, making it accessible once a connection is back in all its glory.

The Internet of Things unlocks the most value-driven version of a tracking system, making it feature-rich. This brings us to the next point.

6 Vehicle GPS software features you can’t go without

The key vehicle tracking software features are a mix of basic tracking functionality and add-ons

For starters, what might work for a taxi business may be of little avail to a logistics company. It goes to show that you can’t develop vehicle tracking software as a one-size-fits-all solution.

That said, some features should find their way into all systems, regardless of the business they serve. Get the lowdown on six of them.

Location detector

You owe it to yourself to have a tracking system that can pinpoint the whereabouts of your vehicles fleet-wide. Knowing where your assets currently are can help you manage your mobile business cost-effectively. Think productivity improvements and theft prevention practices. Plus, a location detector is a way to track when your drivers use your vehicles for personal trips.

Route planner

This feature saves fleet operators and drivers the bother of planning directions, stops, and destinations. It computes the routes while displaying the estimated time of arrival to nail pickups and enhance your customer service. It’s not uncommon to couple this feature with geofencing to bring saved addresses into the equation.

Mileage tracker

Vehicle mileage tracking is a great practice for any mobile business. First, knowing how many miles your cars cover helps you plan a maintenance schedule to keep your fleet in tip-top condition. Second, a mileage tracker can also log fuel consumption data. If you’re looking to reduce idle time and save money on every gallon, it’s your way to go. The GPS Insight tracking system is an outstanding example of a fuel economy solution.

Notification sender

Notifications are your pointers. Whenever your software spots unplanned stops, unauthorized vehicle use, or speeding, it can trigger alerts to let your drivers know something is going wrong. Another benefit of notifications is that they keep your customers informed of late arrivals or serve as reminders. Your fleet operators no longer have to do that manually.

Hours of service tracker

Did you know that fatigued driving accounts for nearly 100,000 accidents every year? Drowsiness puts your drivers and other people at risk, which is why a logger for hours of service is one of the key vehicle tracking software features. It can be used to establish night driving rules, plan rest periods, and minimize collisions. Some fleet managers may even want to embed video solutions into their loggers, as inspired by Omnitracs.

Anti-hacker

Never take your software security for granted. If unprotected, it’s in jeopardy as long as there are ill-wishers who can exploit its weaknesses. An anti-hacking solution should always be considered a critical GPS vehicle tracking system feature. It serves as a shield against cyber threats and malware so that attackers can’t compromise your data or hijack your vehicles.

What does it take to develop GPS vehicle tracking software as part of a tracking system?

Car GPS navigation software can deliver vehicle-related insights in an app or a web-based platform

Software is the main ingredient of a vehicle tracking system recipe. But you should never downgrade the importance of other components:

  • Tracking device
  • Server
  • Frontend or user interface

The API-based tracking device bridges the gap between GPS data and the server. It captures real-time vehicle coordinates via the receiver, microcontroller, and GSM module or retrieves them at preset intervals. The tracker then transmits this information to the server.

The server is where all that GPS data is stored, processed, and broken down. It also includes an API to retrieve big data at a granular level as the tracker transmits it. Next, the server delivers this information to the user interface.

This is where the frontend comes in. With a vehicle tracking system, you can access location data in multiple ways. The most common ones are:

  • A web-based interface
  • An app
  • Push notifications

Alternatively, you can opt for the tracking system that brings fleet insights into emails. This technology is more reliable than API-compatible trackers. It ensures a better deliverability level of fleet-related information, yet it does so at the cost of a high data transmission rate. These devices don’t need to be always connected to a network, but you shouldn’t expect real-time updates, either.

Vehicle tracking software is developed depending on what business problem you need to tackle. Here’s the nitty-gritty of the process.

Problem statement

What do you need a tracking system for? Real-time data or emails? What are your strategic objectives? Vehicle fleet tracking software development starts with the answers to these questions.

A problem statement sets the stage for the next steps as you gain a deeper understanding of what your ideal tracking system is.

Planning and budgeting

Now that you know what your tracking solution should look like, the best part begins. Planning is like making a winding path into a shortcut with clearly defined processes and timeframes.

Get ready to think through your tracking system capabilities. You’ll also want to budget your project out of the gate to avoid compromising software features later. It’s a bitter pill to swallow to get to the development stage just to realize your requirements are out of proportion to your resources.

System development

System development is the most time-consuming step that revolves around:

  • Software architecture
  • Server-side components
  • User-side solutions

This is where the development vendor you’ve partnered with does the coding and designing. It may take several months to one year to make your MVP usable, so be patient.

Software deployment

Once the software is polished, it is deployed into the tracking device. At this stage, all parts of your vehicle tracking system are brought together. Your drivers and fleet operators can now start using it.

But unexpected things may occur when your tracking system is in its infancy. That’s why your software needs to be regularly debugged as you integrate it into your fleet.

Maintenance

A web vehicle tracking system or an app can’t run on its own. It’s important to maintain server-side components, update the user experience according to your drivers’ feedback, and add the extra features you’re planning to enrich your system with.

You may also want your tracking system to scale once your business outgrows its current functionality. If the development vendor of your choice designed the right architecture, it should be easy to do that.

How to end up with a scalable and cost-effective tracking system?

Vehicle fleet tracking software development should always focus on the scalability of the end solution

Imagine that your fleet comprises 20 cars. You can choose to build a vehicle tracking app or a web-based system that works like a charm for a fleet this size. But what if you want to expand it with 20 more cars? Or 40? If it’s not scalable, it may cost you a fortune to maintain your system, or worse yet, it may take a serious knock.

Scalability is a rock-solid foundation that keeps your app or web-based system from being “shaky” as your business grows. It means your solution has everything it takes to distribute increased workloads and function flawlessly, no matter the fleet size.

To make sure your tracking system can scale, pay heed to:

Tech stack

It’s either you who decides which frameworks and programming languages to use in your tracking solution or your software vendor. Python, JavaScript, React, PHP, .NET, Ruby — you name it. Your tech stack can be flexible, whether you need a cross-platform custom real-time GPS commercial vehicle tracking system or an email sender. Most importantly, your backend should be up for scalability.

Cloud-agnostic solutions

Cloud-based vehicle tracking systems can scale faster as it takes seconds to add more servers to handle increased workloads. Besides that, you can go cloud-agnostic. Although your solution needs to be properly configured for that, it allows you to migrate to any cloud provider in a wink, be it AWS, Azure, GCP, etc.

Software architecture

Let’s put it without technical parlance. Your software architecture should be built in a way that reduces idling and resource overuse, just like you’d want for your fleet. That’s when you will never have trouble maintaining, expanding, or adapting your end solution for your growing business.

When created with this in mind, a vehicle tracking system can make an excellent addition to any fleet, large or small. It gives you the green light to integrate it into more cars to track your assets. At Acropolium, we can’t wait to make that happen.

How can Acropolium help?

Acropolium can develop vehicle tracking software for any business

We’ve been developing vehicle tracking software, among other business solutions, for 18 years. Our know-how is extensive enough to help you wind up with the right technology, architecture, and features for your business needs.

So far, we’ve been engaged in creating:

  • Car tracking systems coupled with email alerts and analytics
  • Real-time trackers for emergency response vehicles
  • Web-based logistics systems
  • Fleet monitoring solutions with transport documentation processing options

Let Acropolium walk the talk. We can develop a web-based vehicle tracking system or an app that is anything but lackluster. What’s more, we can get you covered with a full-service solution — from the frontend to the backend to system maintenance. The tech stack? Go for any technology, knowing we are well-versed in it.

The bottom line

Present-day GPS tracking systems are more than just navigation solutions. They are bulging with features to help fleet operators embrace safer, eco-friendlier, and more cost-effective practices.

With the upswing of IoT and telematics, innovation-driven tracking software takes center stage. It can be used for vehicles of all sizes to establish data transfer with similar devices and servers for real-time insights.

There’s no denying it’s hard to develop GPS vehicle tracking software. At some point, this process may even look like the rollercoaster of trade-offs to make it scalable and feature-rich within your budget constraints. But it doesn’t need to be an ordeal. When you have an established development vendor in your corner, your project is in safe hands — from planning to deployment.

Acropolium can be that vendor for you. Contact us to learn how much fleet GPS tracking systems cost and get one step closer to refining your business operations with custom software.