GPS control for personal use (part 1)

    The use of GPS control for personal purposes is important, relevant and promising for the following reasons:
    • Most global analytics companies predict a growing market for GPS-enabled devices. According to some forecasts, in 2022 it will reach 7 billion and will be one for every inhabitant of the planet.
    • In addition to the widespread GPS and GLONASS, the countries of the European Union, China, Japan and India are actively involved in the development of their own GNSS technologies .
    • The number of subscribers to LBS services using GPS technology is growing every year .
    • Miniaturization and cheaper devices spurs the development of the market of systems and applications for vehicle monitoring and personal monitoring.

    The main functions of monitoring systems include: monitoring the current position on the map; viewing the travel route for the selected time interval; creation of points of interest and geofences on the map, control of movement from / to geofences; generation of notifications when certain events occur; formation of reports and graphs.

    In this article, I will consider the functionality of applications and systems that are in demand when using GPS control for personal use.


    In order not to deceive readers' expectations, I’ll immediately make a reservation and list what can be attributed to personal monitoring systems, but this article does not consider:
    • Secret Tracking. A situation where one person wants to secretly track the location and movement of another. There are no features in terms of personal tracking, but there are many questions of a moral and legal nature.
    • Bookmark beacon in a personal car. In order to return a stolen car, it is better to use the services of companies that have response agreements with law enforcement agencies. If, nevertheless, there is a desire to exercise control on your own, then most modern beacons are configured for a specific mode of operation and process SMS text commands. So, low battery notifications and location information will be sent to the owner’s phone and you can do without using the system.
    • Regular sports training. For these purposes, it is better to use specialized applications. There is enough choice in the market. For example: RunKeeper on Google Play.
    • Routing. Modern car navigators quite well implement the routing functions. Routing solutions for vehicles are different from pedestrian routes. I omit this topic in this article, but perhaps in subsequent articles on personal monitoring, I will return to it.

    Important system and application requirements

    • Access to systems should have an interface oriented to the use of mobile browsers . Unlike transport monitoring systems, access to personal monitoring systems should always be - from anywhere and from any device.
    • The price of devices should be budget . Currently, smartphones with GPS / GLONASS support are available on the market, the price of which is 2500 rubles and below. Specialized trackers are available on the market at prices of 1,500 rubles and below (
    • Access to personal GPS control systems, at least to their basic functionality, should be free (that is, without a monthly fee or connection fee).
    • Applications should be economical in terms of battery consumption . In the case of the implementation of applications on smartphones, use should not lead to the need to recharge the phone two to three times more often than without using them.
    • And most importantly, applications and systems should be as simple as possible.

    Devices for personal GPS control

    • Smartphones . Most smartphones (Android, iPhone and Windows Phone) have GPS / GLONASS support. Using applications on smartphones is advantageous in that the phone is always with you and we are used to monitoring its recharging. No need to take an additional tracker (very often we forget to take it or recharge it on time). Unlike specialized trackers, the problem with roaming is solved much easier (by switching to a special operator tariff). In addition, in applications you can set the data transfer mode only via WiFi connection.
    • Cell phones with integrated GPS tracker . They have the ability to make phone calls to a limited number of numbers and transmit data about the current location and alarm signals (by SOS button) to the monitoring server or preset phone numbers. Examples of devices are GK301, Concox GS503.
    • Specialized trackers . There are many budget models of personal trackers on the market. The main criteria for choosing, in my opinion, should be the time of work without recharging and compactness. In addition, it is very useful to let trackers transmit messages about low battery so that a discharged battery does not catch you by surprise. A fairly convenient solution is the watch tracker. They are always with you, they are not forgotten in a bag or clothes. Examples are the Xexun TK203 (Waterproof Watch Tracker with LBS Support) or the more budget option is the Rilla Watch G19 GPS Tracker Watch.

    System Use Options

    In this section I will describe possible options for using personal monitoring systems not from the perspective of the capabilities of existing systems, but from the perspective that I would like to have.

    Continuous tracking mode

    Always knowing where your children or elderly relatives are a very natural need for people. In some cases, you do not need a detailed track of how your loved ones are moving, but it is important to know that in the last 15 minutes they were in a certain place. But, if there is no information for a long time and you started to worry, you should be able to send a request and receive information via SMS.
    The application should (saving battery) transmit information about its location every 10-15 minutes. The application should be able to respond to SMS requests and send their coordinates via SMS. The application should be equipped with a SOS button. On the one hand, it should be quickly and easily accessible, on the other hand, protected from accidental clicks.
    Sometimes your loved ones have to make a trip that causes you concern. In such cases, location information should be transmitted more frequently, and at the time of arrival at the destination, the transmission frequency should be returned to normal mode.
    The application should be able to change the frequency of determining and transmitting coordinates by inputs / outputs from the geofences you set. According to additional settings, the application must transmit information about the entry / exit from the specified geofences via the SMS channel.

    Arrival Schedule

    You went to see relatives or friends. They are waiting for your arrival at 12.00, but you either delayed the departure, or were stuck in a traffic jam. The saying "There is nothing worse than waiting" does not specify an important addition - "not knowing when this will happen."
    The application should allow sending a link to friends or relatives by which they can observe your movement and predict the time of your real arrival. Access to the link must be protected (for example, a complex parameter that is difficult to pick up). Access to the display of your location via this link should be limited to the time you set (up to a specific time or within a certain number of hours after creating the link).

    GPS diary

    It’s useful for any person to know how much time he spends on the way to work, the way from work home, how much time and how often you spend on making the necessary purchases. How much time do you spend getting to the cottage? Moreover, accuracy within 10-15 minutes is quite enough.
    The application should allow you to create zones of your frequent stay and be able to display statistics on the time spent in these zones, as well as the time spent moving from one zone to another.

    Control walks and trips on vacation

    On vacation, we take walks. Trips to neighboring cities. How much time and how far did you go during the week of your vacation? In my opinion, this is interesting. What beautiful places did you go to and how long did it take? It’s also good to have a “cheat sheet” when you tell your friends and relatives about your vacation. To control the distance traveled, a more frequent collection of GPS coordinates is required. But not infrequently, leaving the place where we left off, we forget to turn on this mode.
    The application should be able to switch to the control mode of entry / exit from the zone of the current stop. When entering the stop zone, the polling mode is more rare; when exiting, the more frequent coordinate collection mode is automatically activated. The inclusion of this mode should be accompanied by a sound notification to avoid battery consumption if the detailed route and distance are not important (just a walk around the city).
    Some of your walks were in very interesting places. You will want to share them with your friends.
    The application should allow you to forward your route to other people, and after downloading and saving it, they will be able to go through it, checking your route.

    Return to the hotel

    A few years ago, after an evening walk in Rome, we decided to return to our hotel. It turned out only with the fourth attempt. Three times we returned to the Trevi Fountain. When traveling in unfamiliar cities, it’s useful to have information about your current location and the location of the hotel where you stayed. Information about the nearest public transport stops is also useful.
    The app should allow you to fix the location of your hotel. It’s good if the application allows you to download maps of the nearest surroundings so that access to them is without using the Internet (to avoid spending on mobile Internet).
    There are a large number of Travel Guide applications, but they are more focused on excursions and are not made for all cities.

    In the next part of the article, I will review the systems and applications existing on the market, as well as introduce personal monitoring solutions in our ViaLatM system .

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