Monitoring your GPS Tracking System

With any complex communication system, there can be problems which cause it to not work as planned.  It could be a power failure,  electrical failure of a component, computer crash, cut cable, broken antenna, lightning damage, or a host of other unforseen issues.  Most of these are easy to deal with, but quickly being notified when they happen can be important.

You are able to monitor your GPS tracking system if your system uses RavTrack PC or any other GPS tracking software that allows you to create an alert if a vehicle does not report in. By configuring your RF infrastructure components to also work as GPS transponders, the same tools used to monitor vehicles can be use to monitor your system.

For example, if you use a repeater in your system, configure it to periodically transmit its GPS position also.  This way, if the antenna fails, power goes out, or it just stops working, your GPS monitoring software will send an alert.

With RavTrack PC, you can setup an Alarm and Monitoring Rule to help you monitor your radio network, server, or system operation.  Using the “No Reports” parameter monitoring feature, you can configure an alert to send an email to IP or Management personnel if your system stops working.

Monitoring System Components

To determine if part of all of the GPS tracking system is working, the periodic GPS position messages sent over the air may be monitored, and if they stop coming in, an alert can be generated to notify personnel of a potential system problem.

The easiest way to monitor the radios in your network is to configure them to report their GPS positions over-the-air.  Then configure an Alarm and Monitoring Rule using the No Reports parameter monitor to send an email if the item being monitored does not report in within a preset time period.  This will cause the Alert email to be sent if a part of the GPS tracking system fails such as broken antenna, cut cable, failed power supply, lightning damage, and unplugged serial cable.

Most radio transceivers, such as the M7 GX series of radios, which are used at a base station site may also be configured to output standard NMEA GPS position messages every 5 seconds.  This periodic local NMEA GPS message can also be used to determine if the base station radio is alive and operational.  To use the NMEA GPS position in an alert, you must configure the Communication Channel to interpret the NMEA GPS data as a tracked object in your system.  There is an option to Interpret GPS data w/o ID as ObjectData in the Systems Communications configuration tab.  If this enabled, RavTrack PC will create a new tracked vehicle with an ID 900X where X is the communications channel.  RavTrack PC will place the location of the vehicle 900X at its GPS position.

If there is a GPS transponder in the network that always is powered on and working, then the position report from that unit may also be used to check for system operation.

Monitoring a Server running RavTrack PC

The technique described above will work to monitor individual system components such as receivers, cabling, repeaters, and antennas.  But if a main server running RavTrack PC fails, the failed server cannot report itself failing.  A solution to this dilemma is to also run RavTrack PC on a management workstation, and then configure the same No Reports Alert on the workstation.  If the a server fails, causing the RavTrack system to stop recording GPS tracking data, the workstation’s No Reports Alert will then trigger, send an email, and/or alert the operator.