Welcome to the February issue of the Position Logic newsletter. As always, we're here to help you and your business succeed by providing you with practical information, tools, tips, and techniques to make your business grow and stay competitive. Keeping that in mind, sit back, relax and enjoy this issue as we impart our many years of GPS, LBS, AVL, and ASP.NET experience and knowledge onto you!
As you'll recall from our previous issues, there are two fronts in the LBS world that we'll be focusing on throughout this newsletter: Business and Technology. Picking up from where we left off with last month's Business Front, I'll outline some important features you should consider when comparing GPS tracking platforms. On the technology front, I'll discuss security groups, permissions, and roles, and why they're an essential security feature. Let's get started!
Selecting the Right GPS Tracking Platform
The GPS tracking platform, along with GPS tracking hardware and a wireless data plan, is one of the three key business elements that must be included in all GPS service provider business models. Of the three, the GPS tracking system is perhaps the most important business element, and it often proves a challenge to choose the right one.
Here is a list of the essential features you should consider when comparing GPS tracking systems:
• Tracking features
• Communication methods and device support
• User Interface
• Account administration tools
• Security schemes
• Multiple languages
• Customization options
Now, let's explore each feature set in detail by asking some important questions.
What tracking features are included? Your GPS tracking platform at a minimum should support address geocoding and routing. These features are necessary for even the most basic fleet management, asset, logistics, and vehicle tracking scenarios. Without these features, it is difficult to provide a useful GPS tracking service to your clients. Another feature to consider is support for Google maps. Your tracking platform should fully integrate with Google maps.
What communication methods and devices are supported? Your tracking platform should support SMS communication, ping-on-demand, and two-way communication between the tracking device and platform. It should also be device independent to allow for easy integration of GPS tracking devices. This also gives you the flexibility to choose a device that best fits your company's particular tracking needs or the needs of your clients.
How intuitive is the platform's user interface? The user interface must not only be intuitive and easy-to-use, but it must also be fast, responsive, and easy to navigate. This is a must in the challenging world of LBS where often times seconds count and alerts have to be handled with speed and precision. You'll want to use a platform that is easy for your staff to learn and can be personalized to suit their individual needs and preferences. This also gives you the benefit of reducing the learning curve and training time for new employees. In particular, the map UI must be large, easy to read, and it must feature commonly used mapping tools, such as zoom, pan, street view, and measuring tools.
How useful is the alert system? A GPS tracking platform should at the very least support vehicle speeding alerts, geofence alerts (both entering and leaving), panic button alerts, hardware alerts (such as high/low temperature, low battery, vibration), vehicle maintenance alerts (such as low fuel, low tire pressure, oil), and odd hour of operations alerts to safeguard against unauthorized use of vehicles or vehicle theft.
What account administration tools are available? A good platform must feature a powerful, centralized, and easy-to-use account management area. Within this area, you'll want to have exact control over all your accounts including the ability to run data audits, impose user agreements, temporarily lock out accounts, apply branding to an account, configure custom domains, add reports, and add map datasets.
What reports are included? This is an important consideration as reports are a vital way to fully utilize and gain insight into an account's data. Some of the basic, out-of-the-box reports should include Fleet Activity, Fleet Daily, Fleet Hours Worked, Fleet History, Vehicle Maintenance, State Mileage, Speed Violation, Alerts, Hardware Events, and Start & Stop reports. In addition, you should only consider a system that offers a custom reports option, since your clients might demand specialized reports. Finally, your platform should include the ability to schedule and email reports and should support data exports.
What security schemes are supported? This is another important area that should be fully addressed by any GPS tracking platform. You may recall from our first issue that at the very minimum, the following security features should be supported: password encryption; enforcement of a strong password standard; ability to lock out users in real time; integrated security through management of user groups, roles, and resources; ability to assign and control assets at the user level; detection of invalid log-in attempts; data audit tools; and login reports.
Are multiple languages supported? To globally target your LBS business, your system must support multiple languages, offer the ability to integrate custom map data, and allow custom date and time format settings for each account.
What are my customization options? Last, but certainly not least, you should consider the customization options that the software vendor can provide. Can you rebrand the system at the account level in order to offer a unique look and feel for each customer? Does the platform have the ability to integrate with other systems? Is there an option for custom development or the ability to interface with the development API?
Next month, we'll finish up our series on the business elements by taking a look at the third and final element in your GPS Service Provider business, the wireless data plan or machine to machine (M2M) data plan.
The Importance of Security Groups, User Roles and Permissions
Integrated security is an essential feature that all GPS tracking platforms should support, and Position Logic is no exception. With our integrated security, you have the ability to control the features users in your accounts have access to by defining user groups and roles and assigning resources or permissions to them. In addition, you have the ability to edit, add, and delete user groups and permissions from one convenient location.
Users represent the individuals in an account who will be using the system, and security groups represent categories that users are placed into based on their role within the account or organization. For example, a System Administrator security group would be created for all administrative roles within the account, and users who are placed in this group would typically have rights and access to all areas and features within the account. A group such as the System Administrator group would be assigned all or nearly all of the permissions in the system.
Each group has its own permissions assigned. Permissions represent the resources within the system that the group will have access to, which can be very narrow or broad depending on the role the group will play. Users are assigned to groups and groups are assigned permissions. However, users cannot be directly assigned a permission; they must be assigned to a group with the permission. This allows for very detailed and exact control over the rights users are given and special groups can be created for specific roles. This is important because it gives you the ability to restrict user roles through the permissions you assign them, thereby restricting access to certain areas of your system.
With the Position Logic platform, you also have the ability to change user passwords and email addresses as well as set active or inactive statuses. For groups, you can edit the names and descriptions, change the activation and deactivation dates, and add or remove permissions. The ability to set a deactivation date is especially useful if you have a group of users who will only be using the system for a fixed period of time, after which time you want to deactivate them.
Be sure to check out next month's issue as we take a look at data audit features. This is an important security tool that allows you to see which users changed data in the system and verify the date and time when it was changed.
Next newsletter at a glance
Here's a look ahead at next month's issue. Till next time, keep on tracking and keep your system secure!
- Choosing a wireless data plan or machine to machine (M2M) data plan
- Why you need a data auditing tool and how the Position Logic platform supports this feature