Mobile operator Orange has announced a GSM-based tracking service which it claims is both cheaper and easier to use than GPS technology.
The service – snappily entitled Cell ID – gives the developers of location services details of the Orange GSM network.
When this data is combined with their own location application and other data, Orange claims that it will allow location service providers to offer much more accurate location based services.
Orange has high hopes for the product, boldly predicting that by next year more than 40,000 devices will be tracked using its Cell ID service.
These devices could include farm machinery, train carriages, vending machines and even boats being driven off by drunk holidaymakers.
Melissa Jenkins, M2M product manager at Orange Business Solutions, said Cell ID doesn’t use special antennas or need to be able to see the sky like a GPS system.
“If you are using a Cell ID-type of solution you can chuck it in anywhere and as long as you can get GSM you can get a location. You don’t have the complexity of deploying it – you can use it in much lower cost solutions,” Jenkins said.
The system helps pinpoint devices by their location in relation to mobile phone cells.
“You can see the device is 500 metres from cell A and 800 metres from cell B and work out approximately where it is,” Jenkins explained.
Electronic Tracking Systems (ETS), makers of battery powered security tracking devices under the mtrack brand, is one of the first to pilot the product.
Angela Harvey, Director, Electronic Tracking Systems (ETS), explains how the company is using the service:
”With Cell ID we are able to track assets to within 550m, whereas previously the average distance was around 4.5km and could range up to 11km. As a result our rate of recovery improved from 96% in 2004 to 100% so far this year – that’s around £2m of recovered stolen goods.”
“Cell ID has significantly reduced the time recovery personnel need to spend searching for a missing item, lowering costs and helping us return stolen property faster. It has also given our customers and distributors increased confidence that we will retrieve their stolen items.”