GPS has gone global in a very real sense, but its application has spread to the business world as never before. You can find a GPS tracking device in just about any kind of business vehicle these days—from police cars to bulldozers, from dump trucks to mayor limousines. The idea is to provide real-time data for dozens of uses to dozens of people all the time. The more a large city knows where its vehicles are, the better it can plan the allocation of those vehicles, on a daily basis and in the future.
One prime mover in the embracing of GPS technology for business use is Sears. The huge catalog business also has a huge repair business, fronted by a fleet of service repair vehicles that are part of Sears Smart Toolbox. Each truck in the fleet of 11,000 has cell and Wi-Fi connections and can access GPS data from the central office, including street-by-street driving directions to businesses and residences whose occupants have requested repair service.
It’s not just repair calls that can be tracked, however. Tracking devices can be placed on shipping containers coming into and traveling around the country. This is known as geofencing and is a prime tactic in controlling the transportation of hazardous materials. One large American port city has GPS devices installed on all the fuel tankers that commonly enter its port. If the tanker strays outside its proscribed route, a remote control system shuts off the tanker’s engines.
One also envisions an emergency preparedness unit keeping track of its vehicles via GPS and immediately knowing which vehicle is closest to the scene of an accident. In a similar vein, if a vehicle is missing, its GPS locator could be accessed to determine the location of the missing vehicle.
More and more, the business of GPS is business.