Dealers and installers should broaden their portfolios
- By Dean Mason
- Jan 01, 2015
"In 400 feet, your destination will be on the right.”
For most people, these words sum up the world of Global
Positioning Systems (GPS): providing automated navigation to
get from point A to point B. From systems installed in cars to
increasingly common apps on smart devices, GPS has helped eliminate the
pile of receipts and napkins that once contained human-scribbled directions.
While it has eliminated a lot of hassles for the everyday consumer, it also
has added an element of creativity for those charged with designing customized
security systems. That, in turn, is helping security professionals such as
dealers and installers broaden their businesses and portfolios by tapping into a multitude of hidden benefits for their customers.
Consider the following scenario offered by Joe Agreste, general manager
of South Bay Communications & Security in Chesapeake, Va. A couple goes
through a messy divorce, and one party is instructed by a judge not to get
within a certain number of feet of the other. A traditional home security system
might help the other party feel more secure in his/her house; Agreste,
though, wonders if a technology like geo-fencing could one day also be applicable
for this situation since it has the ability to set digital boundaries around
a location, and then send notifications if those boundaries have been crossed.
Obviously, several logistical and legal hurdles must be cleared before
something like geo-fencing can successfully be applied to this specific scenario.
Still, the mere fact this type of technology has dealers thinking outside
the box illustrates just how impactful GPS can be for the industry. One such
technology, Honeywell’s Total Connect Tracking Services, was launched in
Many of these types of possibilities enabled by technology like Total Connect
Tracking Services are yet to be created; in the meantime, though, there
are some basic-yet-innovative uses for this technology that are currently
drawing interest from security professionals. According to recent results from
a Honeywell dealer survey, for example, dealers are significantly interested in
exploring GPS as an expanded offering. Out of a scale of five ranging from
“None” to “Very High,” 82 percent of dealers ranked their interest in vehicle
tracking and 60 percent of dealers ranked their interest in asset tracking as
“High” or “Very High.”
“Vehicle tracking is a home-run offering,” Agreste said. “It provides tremendous
opportunity in going after new and broadened markets.”
Getting from Point A to point B … and Beyond
Sophisticated security GPS systems aren’t much different than the simple apps
installed on so many mobile devices. They’re small, sleek, and affordable, involving
a tracking device that blends in with its background. Many sync with
Google’s Google Maps app for intuitive use, and tracking independent objects
is possible from just about anywhere.
Vehicle trackers don’t need to be charged and they plug directly into a car,
truck or service van’s on-board diagnostic system port (called OBD II), which
are required on most vehicles sold in the U.S. since 1996. Other non-OBD
II vehicles (such as boats, jet skis, ATVs, RVs, motorcycles or construction
equipment) can use asset trackers. Even for assets that aren’t powered, such as
shipping containers, machinery, generators or outdoor inventory, most companies
offer asset trackers with extended battery.
Don’t mistake its simple design for simplistic features, though. Both vehicle
and asset trackers provide on-demand, 24/7 travel information including
location, speed, and history. Many services allow users to track multiple
vehicles and assets at any given time, as well as access several months’ worth
of historical data. In-line with consumer trends, users receive real-time notifications
via text message or email when a vehicle or asset has moved, exceeded
speed limits or traveled outside of a geo-fenced area, such as a school, home,
field of work or company building.
With regards to automation potential, Honeywell’s Total Connect offers
the unique ability to integrate GPS tracking services into a user’s full security
and automation system. This allows the home or business owner to control
security, video and energy management, and GPS from one platform. In the
future, features from GPS security may be able to automatically trigger certain
actions for the home. For example, a user could set a geo-fence three
miles from their house and once they approach, their thermostat turns on.
Without any manual effort and regardless of what time it is, their home is
heated before they walk in the door.
Vehicle Security on the Move
GPS vehicle security has attracted high interest in the eyes of dealers for many
reasons. First, it provides peace-of-mind for families. Vehicle tracking devices
allow parents to monitor their teen drivers as needed, softening the inevitable
anxiety that comes with allowing kids more responsibilities and freedom as
they approach adulthood. Thanks to GPS services, parents no longer have to
constantly fret about the whereabouts of their adolescent son or daughter.
Vehicle tracking also benefits the elderly. GPS systems allow consumers
to keep tabs on their parent or spouse who may, for example, have a physical
or mental handicap limiting their ability to get around town. This can be
especially impactful for the millions of Americans who struggle with a form
of Dementia, and their families who in turn struggle with managing the onset
challenges of care-giving. When a loved one goes missing, tracking services
can help locate them and expedite rescue.
Secondly, GPS offers a range of features that are attractive to businesses.
Vehicle tracking gives managers access to where their assets are at any given
time. If something goes wrong—a vehicle breaks down, gets lost or stolen,
or wanders astray—GPS sends a notification so a manager can take appropriate
action in getting things back on track. Within a short period of time,
an administrator may notice patterns, such as average time-of-arrival, traffic
trends, or a certain drivers’ habits. This data leads to more accurate planning
and projecting, as well as better employee management.
“Vehicle tracking provides enormous value especially for corporate entities
and municipalities,” said Tracy Combs, general manager at First Alarm
Security Systems. “Any manager knows the hassles involved in checking up on
employees’ whereabouts and having to deter stray action. GPS vehicle tracker
makes that task easier by solving for accountability.”
Part of what makes these features so attractive is their affordability and
smooth deployment process. Many businesses are accustomed to paying $40
per month for traditional fleet management services that send formal reports
days after an event takes place. GPS vehicle tracking is an alternative that truly
does offer more for less. A user can receive the valuable upgrade of accessible
real-time notifications and customizable technology at a more affordable cost.
A Future Untracked
South Bay Alarms’s Agreste said he believes the potential for GPS isn’t anywhere
close to being tapped.
“The design of this product is in the eye of the beholder,” said Agreste. “I
use it myself to alert me if I happen to go over the speed limit. It really doesn’t
matter to me whether we’re selling to a home, corporate, or industrial environment—
it doesn’t change the fact that vehicle security tracking is versatile
with many options and many opportunities.”
In other words, GPS security allows for creativity. Users often think of objects
being tracked by GPS as moving, but they can also be standing still. For
example, a dealership like South Bay Alarms could apply GPS security to local
shipyards to further enhance existing systems such as outdoor motion detectors
and cameras. This could be a cost-effective way to offer a more-complete
“I have a hunch there are more benefits and applications than we can possibly
know right now,” Agreste said.
Until then, GPS security clearly offers enough innovative functionality to
keep users tracking.
This article originally appeared in the issue of .