Understanding how TrackTik uses GPS

Learn how GPS (Global Positioning System) works in TrackTik and its known limitations 

Overview

TrackTik integrates GPS data from mobile devices to provide location updates, allow for checkpoints at specific geographic coordinates and create approved or restricted areas of work with Geofences. GPS technology is constantly improving, but there are some known limitations. Knowing them will help you and your team troubleshoot problems in the field.

Learn about GPS history and development

GPS or Global Positioning System was developed by the United States government and made publicly available in 1993. Using orbiting satellites, the system continuously broadcasts radio waves to communicate with GPS receivers on the ground. Three satellites are used in trilateration to get a position on the ground.

GPS_Signals_trilateration.png

In 2016, the European Union made a civilian-controlled equivalent of GPS known as Galileo available to the public. Combined with GPS, Russia's GLONASS, and China's Beidou systems, they make up the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Most mobile devices built after 2017 are equipped to access GPS and Galileo, significantly increasing location accuracy. You can confirm whether your device can access both by going to useGALILEO.eu.

GPS vs. Mobile Phone Tracking

GPS was initially developed for open areas and relied on a "line of sight" with clear radio signals from all three satellites to allow trilateration. This limits signal accuracy in urban areas and requires a connection to the GPS satellites or time-to-first-fix (TTFF)that can take several minutes.  

Most phones now use multiple location tracking technologies to ensure accuracy in urban areas. These technologies include using cell phone tower locations, publicly available Wi-Fi hotspot locations, and Assisted GNSS (used by Google Maps) to provide more accurate mobile phone tracking.

Location information in TrackTik is built using Google Location Services. TrackTik and Google use a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile network, and device sensor information to provide accurate location results. 

Follow TrackTik location best practices for Android Devices

To ensure accurate reporting and safety while in the field, configure your mobile device to share as much location data as possible. Ensure that you enable GPS, Wi-Fi, Mobile Data, and Google Location Services in your device settings. 

To best configure your mobile device, on Android 12 or higher:

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen.
  2. Touch and hold Location.
    • Tap Edit or Settings.
    • Drag Location into your Quick Settings.
      • If you don't find Location :
  3. Tap Location Services Google Location Accuracy.
  4. Turn Improve Location Accuracy on.
  5. Select App location permissions
  6. Ensure that Guard Tour, TrackTik SHIFT, and Google Maps are set to Allowed all the time

To best configure your mobile device, on Android 11 or lower:

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen. 
  2. Touch and hold Location.
    • Tap Edit or Settings.
    • Drag Location into your Quick Settings.
      • If you don't find Location:
  3. Tap Advanced Google Location Accuracy. 
  4. Turn Improve Location Accuracy on.
  5. Select App location permissions
  6. Ensure that Guard Tour, TrackTik SHIFT, and Google Maps are set to Allowed all the time

Set up Wi-Fi & Bluetooth scanning

To help apps get better location info, you can let your phone scan for nearby Wi-Fi access points or Bluetooth devices.

On Android 12 & higher

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen.
  2. Touch and hold Location.
    • Tap Edit or Settings.
    • Drag Location into your Quick Settings.
      • If you don't find Location:
  3. Tap Location services.
  4. Turn Wi-Fi scanning and Bluetooth scanning on.

On Android 11 & lower

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen. 
  2. Touch and hold Location.
    • Tap Edit or Settings
    • Drag Location into your Quick Settings.
      • If you don't find Location:
  3. Tap Wi-Fi scanning and Bluetooth scanning. 
  4. Turn Wi-Fi scanning and Bluetooth scanning on.


Turn on high accuracy mode.

Use high accuracy mode to help TrackTik and Google Maps get a more precise location.

  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open Settings.
  2. Tap Location.
  3. At the top, switch location on.
  4. Tap Mode High accuracy

 

Follow TrackTik location best practices for Apple Devices

To help TrackTik find your most accurate location, turn on location services and keep your Wi-Fi on. For best results, download the Google Maps app from the App Store.

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open Settings.
  2. Tap Privacy > Location Services.
  3. Make sure Location Services is turned on.
  4. Scroll and select Google Maps.
  5. Choose Always.
  6. Scroll and select TrackTik Guard Tour.
  7. Choose Always.
  8. Scroll and select TrackTik SHIFT.
  9. Choose Always
  10. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services and make sure all toggles are on.
  11. Ensure you've correctly set the device's date, time, and time zone in Settings > General > Date & Time. If possible, use Set Automatically.
  12.  Ensure your Wi-Fi is enabled by selecting Settings > Wi-Fi> turn on Wi-Fi.

 

Calibrate your device's compass for better accuracy

To ensure that your device has the most accurate location, you might have to recalibrate its internal compass. Mobile devices do this automatically, but you can manually recalibrate it by following the steps below.

 

On Android

  • Open Google Maps
  • Make a figure 8 until your compass is calibrated. You should only have to do this a few times.
  • The beam should become narrow and point in the right direction.

    Phone_Calibration.gif

On iPhone

  • Power your device off and then on again.
  • Open the Compass app.
  • Rotate and tilt your device so the red ball moves slowly around the circle
  • Your device will indicate when you've completed the calibration

Calibrate_iphone_compass.png

 

Notes on portal GPS settings

You can adjust several GPS settings directly in your TrackTik portal. Keeping these settings on default is generally best practice, but you can change them if you have difficulty or have older equipment.

Accepted GPS Accuracy

  • If you set accuracy to Very Precise (< 10 meters), for example, and the GPS signal or the device's GPS is very poor, the system will not accept that point as enough accuracy to consider.  
  • If you set accuracy to Very Wide (< 150 meters), the system will accept more imprecise GPS points.  

If your organization uses older hardware or operates in a region with a poor GPS signal, a wider accuracy may give you better results. You should note that these settings are for your whole portal or region and will affect all the devices used.

 

Improving your GPS performance 

  • For mobile patrol in urban areas, vehicles can be outfitted with a third-party GPS receiver (or booster) that can connect to mobile devices through Bluetooth. This can help ensure more consistent GPS information is being sent to TrackTik.
  • Keep your battery charged, and the device plugged in if possible. Low battery levels lead to an inconsistent GPS signal.
  • Research your device to ensure it has the appropriate GPS chip for daily operations. Mobile device hardware can vary greatly. For best results, look for a mobile device that combines A-GNSS and Galileo.
  • If you're getting inconsistent results, reboot your device. This will recalibrate your device leading to better GPS reception.

See also


Next steps 

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