Police Don’t Need a Warrant to Use GPS In Some Cases

4395757351_fd19d12e9cImagine a world where everything you’ve learned from crime novels about interrogating a suspect is no longer true. No bright lights, no trick questions, no “good cop and bad cop.” What if all of those things disappeared to make way for a GPS tracker that can provide police with all the details needed?

That’s the kind of GPS program that’s being tested out in Palm Beach, Florida, right now thanks to an emerging branch of investigation called GPS forensics.

What Is It?

All police need is a GPS tracker to find out exactly where a suspect has been at what time – making it simpler to find the truth. The Palm Beach department isn’t telling press a lot about the new GPS tracker program, but that’s understandable – it would be unwise for criminals to know all of the tricks!

From The Forest To The Streets

One officer, beginning his career as a fish and game warden, switched over to the Palm Beach Police force after realizing the benefits GPS trackers provided police. When working as a game warden, he spent a lot of time wandering the woods, marking the best fishing spots on a handheld GPS tracker to pass the time.

The more he used it, the more he realized the data collected by the device would really be useful to law enforcement.

So he taught himself how to extract certain information from GPS trackers, brought it to the police department, and has been hard at work ever since. The majority of his work focuses on GPS trackers in boats (he is in Palm Beach, after all), with busts ranging from watercraft crashes to human smuggling.

GPS In Action

An example of GPS forensics at work: FBI agents discovered 33 people aboard a 40-foot fishing boat, 25 miles off the coast of Boynton Beach. The woman who owned the boat told the FBI she was returning from a trip to the Bahamas when she came across a ship that was sinking, offering a ride to the 31 stranded people she allegedly came across.

But when sifting through the GPS location data, it was discovered she was lying through her teeth. The boat did not travel the course she had stated. She and the captain had smuggled the 31 people from the Bahamas to the tune of $5,000 per person. Seven of the 31 had actually been deported from the U.S. previously!

But, what about the legal part? Aren’t GPS trackers illegal without a warrant?

The Legal Bits

Here’s the loophole: police departments can legally track suspects if that person has a personal GPS tracker. From there, police can simply track that person using the GPS tracking data – works like a charm!

How can a GPS tracker help you? Contact us, we can set you up with the perfect solution!

 

Photo by aldenjewell via Flickr Creative Commons

Boston Schools Open One Hour Early Due to Strike

boston_bus_strikeThis morning, Boston schools are slated to open an hour earlier. Is it because they’re testing out an earlier start time? No. It’s actually due to a recent bus driver strike.

Two drivers were fired as a result of the Veolia Transportation Inc. driver strike over one month ago. This has lead to a shortage of drivers, and has also left a lot of parents with no way to get kids to school. The best solution was to open the schools one hour earlier, so that parents can drop kids off before heading to work.

What happened? Why did the drivers suddenly strike?

The Strike

On October 8th, bus drivers took a stand for what they considered unfair treatment. The drivers argue that working conditions altered and not negotiated by the driver union, and that the integration of GPS trackers has made it hard for drivers to take small breaks.

The company had installed GPS trackers in order to provide drivers with faster and better routes to schools. But, drivers argue that the trackers did not find better routes. Instead, drivers are stating that the trackers have made it harder to get kids to school on time. As a result, drivers are on strike and bus lines aren’t running.

The Aftermath

Even though the buses are back to their scheduled routes, parents and city officials are concerned there could be another strike. The union that represents the city’s bus drivers has tried to assure the public they needn’t worry, that the strike was conducted by what they called “rogue employees.”

Two were fired in connection with the strike, after five were suspended. The contracts of the city’s bus drivers explicitly state that strikes, slowdowns and stoppages of any kind are against the rules. Furthermore, if union members participate in a strike or stoppage, they can be terminated immediately.

Union officials were in the midst of working with Veolia after union members had filed a complaint against the company. In all, there were over 50 grievances filed with the union. Besides the GPS trackers, there were issues with last minute schedule changes that decreased the hours the drivers worked, rude treatment, and payroll inconsistencies.

Bottomline

If you learn anything from Veolia Transportation, it is this: if you integrate a GPS tracker into your fleet, think carefully about what system you use. Choose GPS trackers that are truly beneficial, will save time, and will allow your drivers necessary breaks.

Need a reliable GPS tracking system for you fleet? Don’t choose one at random. We have a ton of GPS trackers that you can use to track any vehicle in your fleet, and out trackers are also reliable. Call us today for more details.

Kids in Denver Board Buses With GPS

gps_for_school_busesYou know that moment when your little one ventures off to school for the first time? You watch them step on that bus and drive off, wishing you could be there to make sure they get through the day okay. A big fear most parents have: their child will accidentally board the wrong bus at the end of the day and never make it home.

In Denver, Colorado, this occurs more frequently than you would think! How bad is it? Well, it’s a big enough problem to warrant a new GPS tracker that allows parents to see where the kids are in real time. It’s called the + Pass system, and both parents and students give it high marks.

How the + Pass System Works

Implemented at the start of the 2013 school year, this system has changed everything. Parents know where kids are while riding a bus, and privacy is kept private too. According to the FAQ, no data is stored regarding the students themselves except for the “time, date and location a student enters and exits the school bus.” What’s more, the bus is the only place the students can be located. There are no GPS trackers inside any of the district’s schools.

Simple For Kids to Use

It’s a cinch for kids to use on their own, something the bus drivers love! Students carry a + Pass card on them at all times. When they are boarding one of the district’s buses, they simply pull the card out and wave it in front of the + Pass card reader. They do the same when they get off of the bus. Once the card is read, the reader beeps, and a light changes from blue to green, visual confirmation the read was a success.

Each time the card is read, the GPS tracker transmits the time, date, and GPS location data to a secure database. Only those who work for the bus company, parents, and school officials are able to view data. Parents simply log onto a secure website in order to track a child’s movements. If they happen to get off at the wrong stop, parents can locate a kid quickly.

If your school district is hesitant to get on board, take matters into your own hands! Contact us to discuss the perfect tracker your child can carry to keep them safe when you can’t be there.

 

Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons From KB35

Why NYC Taxis Need GPS

nyc_cabs_gpsWhen it comes to iconic transportation for those who need to get around New York City, nothing beats the good old taxi. The only problem with NYC cabbies is that drivers don’t have the best reputations with tourists and locals alike. But, that’s all about to change.

Changing The Game

Where drivers used to charge higher fares by entering higher meter rate codes, or take “the long way” when they knew their passenger was a tourist to push up the mileage and take advantage of these vulnerable people who simply don’t know any better, city officials have changed everything by implementing GPS trackers in cabs.

They’ve been rolling them out slowly over the past five years, with just over 13,000 GPS trackers in action to date.

Fed up with fraud by dishonest drivers, New York City officials figured this was the best way to face the issue and hold them all accountable. Not only has the program kept drivers more honest, it’s slowly winning over the masses, one customer at a time.

Drivers Against GPS

Of course, drivers weren’t pleased with the plan to implement the GPS trackers. And it wasn’t just due to privacy concerns, as one would expect. They also disagreed with the associated charges and cost for installation and monitoring. In September of 2007, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance held a strike that lasted two days in response to the plan.

Today, however, most drivers are willing to install the GPS trackers. Customers appreciate the handy devices, feeling more comfortable riding in a cab knowing that if there is a fare dispute, it can quickly be proven or disproven.

What Has The Program Done For The Taxi Industry?

Besides customers being much more satisfied and at ease when choosing to travel by taxi, a spokesman for the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission, Allan Fromberg, has confirmed that the data the GPS trackers collected provided crucial traffic information to agencies such as the ‘Department of Transportation.’ This data enabled the DOT to draft policies intended to help with traffic flow.

Fromberg pointed out another way GPS has improved service: it has reconnected passengers with items they’d left behind. In fact, he indicated that over half of the calls that come in have to do with forgotten items.

This use of GPS tracking technology points out many important reasons fleets should rely on GPS trackers installed in all vehicles. Besides keeping employees honest and increasing efficiency, there’s a more important reason: customer satisfaction and trust. Because a happy customer is a repeat customer!

Does your business use GPS trackers in its fleet vehicles? If the answer is ‘no’ and you are considering it, give us a call. We can connect you with the perfect solution!

For Hunters, GPS Works

hunting_gps_mapsLike to hunt? Then you probably know how important it is to gain landowner permission prior to trespassing – even if you are chasing a prize buck! But, there might be an easier way. A new GPS tracking software applications called ‘Hunting GPS Maps’ provides public land map markers for hunters.

Some of the Hunting GPS Maps also list landowner names and contact details making it even easier to gain permission to hunt. In addition, these maps are helping hunters and landowners co-exist by decreasing the number of reported trespassing disputes.

Accurate Information

Not only do these maps precisely display property boundaries, but they also list game-management borders. Plus, hunters can now see public land areas that might not have been known prior. An extra feature of these maps is a topographical feature that explains what each specific terrain looks and feels like.

Here’s the best part: you can be led out of unknown area of woods with the map, following the trail you took precisely, ending up right where you started – no bread crumbs necessary!

How The Software Works

Property data is compiled from property tax records in each county that is part of this program thus far. This prevents hunters from entering private territory, and it also makes the job of a game warden easier. Since the implementation of GPS trackers in some game warden outfits, property land disputes have been on the decline – hopefully, this new mapping software will increase the decrease.

The GPS tracking software is available for most of the Western states. The company plans to expand their maps to Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Michigan.

Preserving A Tradition

Hunting is probably the most ancient tradition of all. At one point in time, it was the only way humans could survive. Now, fathers who learned the sport from their fathers, who learned it from their fathers, and so on, are teaching their own sons (who are now using GPS trackers and tracking software to make things simpler!).

Whether or not hunting is supported in your part of the world, GPS maps are making this sport a lot simpler where land disputes are concerned – those against hunting can benefit from this technology too. If a map clearly labels a part of land private, landowners will have a better chance of proving that hunters are trespassing. Where hunting is concerned, this new GPS tracking technology goes a long way.

The ‘Gun Box’ Makes Locking Up Guns Secure With GPS

gun_box_gpsAccording to the Pew Research Center, approximately 43% of U.S. citizens are gun owners (registered). This number has dwindled recently due to high gun theft numbers. Responsible gun owners not wanting to be the reason why someone irresponsible steals and uses a gun are turning in their weapons. There might be a better way to keep guns safe, though.

Introducing The Gun Box

The ‘Gun Box’ is developer Ryan Hyde’s answer to gun theft. This device works in a unique way, relying on two separate security measures contained in one heavy-duty safe-like box made of a die-cast aluminum alloy. Coupled with fingerprint scanning technology and a GPS tracker, the Gun Box is, by far, the most secure way to keep guns locked up to date. Let’s take a closer look.

The Gun Box Design

Here’s how it works:

Place a gun inside of the Gun Box knowing that the gun is protected against accidents and fire incidents (the box has a tensile strength of 24,000 psi and melting temperature of well over 1,000°F).

You also don’t have to worry about someone prying the box open, since the hinges on this box are located on the inside.

You don’t need to worry about the mounting position of the box either. The mechanism relies on motorized servos instead of magnets, which means you can mount it under a piece of furniture or against a closet wall if you want to. It should be plugged in, but if for any reason you need to unplug it, it comes complete with 1350 mAh backup battery that is purported to last several weeks.

Plus, this gun box doesn’t look like a gun safe. That helps to keep thieves away too.

Sleek and Sure

This isn’t like a big, flashy gun safe. In fact, thieves might mistake it for some strange, new peripheral or a router. It’s simply a sleek, silver case with USB ports and a biometric and RFID scanner inconspicuously located on top. But don’t worry, you can also take advantage of the Kensington lock and cable to lock it down to a desk or other furniture item for added security (a lock and cable that can be attacked to a metal-reinforced hole located on your computer or peripheral).

Fingerprint Protected

As previously stated, the safe can be accessed by fingerprint ID scan or GPS tracker. You can program the device for multiple users, which means select members of your family will all be able to get inside in case of emergency by simply placing their finger in the appropriate spot on the Gun Box.

A bracelet tracker with GPS, provided with the Gun Box, is a second method to access the box’s contents. You can even set it up to open with both methods (tracker with GPS and fingerprint scan), ensuring ultimate safety.

The coolest method of security yet (that will cost users a monthly fee): you can monitor the GPS location of your Gun Box at all times thanks to a GPS tracker. The accelerometer built into the safe will trigger an alert to be sent to your smartphone the moment the box is moved, and if the box doesn’t “check in” with the GPS tracker (it does this automatically every so often), you’ll get an alert as this may be a thief attempting to jam the signal.

This is certainly a unique way to use GPS tracking devices! What do you think?

Shark Attack: GPS Helps Tag Great Whites

great_white_gps_trackingOne of the most mysterious animals in the deep blue sea is the great white shark. Sure, these sharks have been studied in captivity, but daily habits and patterns are largely a mystery. Can you blame scientists? Who wants to swim around with predators all day?! Maybe there’s a way to change that.

A Floating Laboratory

A team of Ocearch scientist are currently using GPS trackers to learn all they can about the great white shark. These scientists recently cruised the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to find their first subjects, drawing them close to the boat with chum in the form of herrings and tuna  – as well as a dummy that looks like a seal.

While armed with GPS tracking devices, this team of scientists has set sail in an old crabbing vessel – not exactly the safest way to travel when checking out great whites! What’s the best way to deal with a lured shark while standing in a crabbing vessel? Why, lift the shark up on a hydraulic lift, of course!

Scientific Methods

There’s just one problem with the hydraulic lift method. Captain Brett McBride has to jump into the water, and maneuver the sharks onto the lift. Gulp. Amazing, McBride has succeeded in this endeavor a few times.

Once the shark is lifted on deck, scientists cover the shark’s eyes with a wet towel to keep the animal calm. Water is then poured over a shark’s gills in order to ensure that each shark is breathing properly. While studying the sharks, scientist affix a GPS tracker to each great white. But, time is of the essence when it comes to this operation.

Tick-Tock Goes the Clock

Scientists have approximately 15 minutes to collect tissue, blood samples, perform an ultrasound, affix that GPS tracker under a shark’s fin, place an acoustic tag underneath a shark, add a third tracker to a shark’s tail, and release the shark back into the water. Phew! That’s a lot to accomplish in 15 minutes!

So far, the team has tagged more than 60 great white sharks since 2007. That’s around $10,000 worth of trackers with GPS and monitors. This team is looking to compile a shark migration map.

Lessons Learned So Far

Some incredible information has already been learned. For instance, one shark traveled from South Africa to Australia in 99 days, which is about 11,100 kilometers — the longest distance ever recorded for a great white.

Another interesting fact: male great whites spend all of their time hanging out by the shoreline, while females travel great distances. The reason is still unknown.

It is important to scientists to learn all they can about great whites. Without the GPS tracking device and GPS technology, keeping tabs on great whites wouldn’t be possible.

 

Photo by ZA Photos via Flickr Creative Commons

Location, Location, Location (and GPS Location)

nsa_gps_trackingYesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from NSA Director General Keith Alexander. The case? Whether or not the NSA gathered GPS location data from American owned smartphones.

The Response? The NSA did collect GPS location data, but it was part of a test program that began in 2010 and spilled over into 2011. Does the NSA still gather location data? Not anymore.

Testing, Testing

Both House and Senate intelligence committees authorized the NSA tests. What was the NSA testing? Whether or not using GPS to gather data is useful. That’s the story, and the NSA is sticking to it.

More interestingly, though, is how the NSA gathered this GPS tracking information. It all began with the first smartphone (the ‘Nokia 9000,’ in case your wondering!)…

Smart Phones? Panic!

From the start, consumers loved the idea of the smartphone. What’s not to love, really? But, the NSA wasn’t on the warm and fuzzy bandwagon. This technology spread quickly, and it was a type of technology that the government had no way of accessing at first.

The problem? If the government can’t gain data on suspected terrorists, the country (as a whole) is at risk. So, naturally, the NSA started to test out ways that smartphone data could be mined.

Line ‘Em Up

Task forcers were immediately created – one per manufacturer and operating system (OS). At the time, this included iOS, BlackBerry, and Android. The task? To find ways to hack into each type of smartphone. In case you’re wondering, Apple’s iOS is the easiest to hack into!

After gaining access to each OS, data extraction began. In addition to GPS location data, images, contacts, call logs, and text messages were tapped. That’s how the NSA gained GPS tracking data via smartphone. Interesting, isn’t it? Feeling a bit paranoid?

Location, Location, Location

I think it was Ray Kroc (founder of McDonalds) that originally coined the phrase: “location, location, location.” That phrase was created for the real estate market, but it also applies to smartphone tracking.

In short: disabling app location features prevents people from tracking your whereabouts.

But, really, you don’t need to worry. The NSA has told press that this branch of the government only targets suspected criminals or those that are being investigated for terrorist activities.

The Case Continues

The NSA investigation is far from over, but it’s an interesting case to watch – and one that is centred on GPS tracking technology.

What do you think? Is GPS location tracking warranted? Do you always tag your photos with your current location information? Let us know below!

Welcome to Our Blog!

gps_tracking_blog

Welcome to the first Alpha GPS Tracking blog post!

Here’s what we’ll be writing about:

  • The latest GPS tracking news
  • GPS tracking gadget information
  • Industry tips, tricks, and details
  • On pace GPS tracking methods

In short, this is where you will want to come to learn about all aspects of GPS tracking. Make sure to follow our blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn too – we’ll be posting daily updates!

Who We Are

In case this is your first visit to our site, here’s what Alpha GPS Tracking is all about:

We’ve been around since 2007, and our mandate is to provide you with the right solutions to your GPS tracking needs.

What kinds of needs?

Things like:

  • Keeping your kids safe
  • Making sure your elderly loved one is safe
  • Locating your stolen vehicle
  • Monitoring your fleet of vehicles and drivers
  • A lot more!

Content You Can Rely On

Hate blog posts that ramble with no real purpose? We do too! You won’t find any of that here. What you will find are all the latest bits from the GPS tracking world. Our content aims to please our readers – that’s you!

So, let us know how we’re doing by leaving comments and notes here on through any of our social networking pages. We’ll get back you shortly! And, of course, if there’s every anything you want to know about our services, just shout. We are here to help!

We hope you are as excited about this addition to the Alpha GPS Tracking website as we are! We hope to hear from you soon – and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus!