Anatomy Of A Professional Vehicle Camera System – GPS
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Anatomy Of A Professional Vehicle Camera System – GPS

Tech Tuesday – Anatomy Of A Professional Vehicle Camera System: Accurate GPS

A vehicle camera/CCTV system that only gives you video footage means that you get impartial information. You will have the footage, but what about precise location information?

Often, where you were at the time the accident happened is very important. For instance, were in your lane or over a road marking at the time of the accident? Were road signs visible? Who had right of way? The issue is that establishing this requires very accurate GPS data.


How Does GPS Work?

GPS stands for ‘Global Positioning System’. It was invented, like many modern technologies we use, by the US military to provide very precise location information for troops on the ground.

It works thanks to a network of satellites in orbit around the earth. These satellites carry very stable atomic clocks. They also know their precise location in space around the earth. They transmit down to earth the time and their location in a constant stream of data that travels at the speed of light.

These signals are received and processed by devices called GPS Receivers. Once they have a lock on at least 3 satellites (but these days, typically 4 is the minimum), they can combine the time information, which is synced across each stream, with the location information to triangulate the receiver’s position.

The accuracy of the positioning is therefore determined by the quality and processing power of the receiver hardware. Low-quality hardware can have issues receiving the required data streams in certain locations, such as cities or where trees, etc. obscure the view of the sky. Also, slow processing may mean that the system shows you are in completely the wrong position. It is not unheard of for cheaper systems to place you 100 or more metres away from your actual position.

Cheap GPS systems used for route navigation can overcome this using assumptions about the road you are travelling on. Known as ‘dead-reckoning’, it can adjust the position accordingly. But on tracking systems, this can be highly problematic as its function is to simply plot your position as reported and requires quality hardware with powerful processing to achieve it.

So what are your options when buying cameras for your vehicles?


Non-Commercial Vehicle Camera Products Have No GPS

If you are running a fleet of vehicles and choose a basic camera product, it will record your footage, but will have no location information. In some instances where the cause and blame of an accident is obvious, the location information is less important. But there are many instances where the cause of the accident is less obvious. That’s when location information can be the critical factor in proving your innocence and not having can leave you in the same position as not having a camera at all, or worse still, it may seem to show that you are to blame when you were not!

We would not therefore recommend a camera solution that does not have GPS included.


Basic Commercial Camera Systems With GPS

Worse than having no GPS is having incorrect GPS. Many cheap commercially designed camera products incorporate low-grade GPS to keep the costs down. The challenge here is that your vehicles’ locations may be grossly inaccurate, causing major challenges when reporting on and defending claims.


High-Quality Commercial Camera Systems With GPS

Systems that are truly designed for commercial use not only provide high quality vehicle CCTV recording, but also highly accurate GPS tracking. These systems should give a cloud-based interface that will play the camera footage alongside a map that shows the exact position of the vehicle.

ProVision vehicle camera systems deliver all these features and provide GPS tracking that is accurate down to a parking space.

Summary

You can never have too much information when it comes to protecting your fleet. Being able to accurately locate your vehicle has many benefits that not only include accident reporting, but also security and efficient management of your fleet. You may even have a telematics solution that helps with the latter two needs, but only an integrated camera and GPS system can help with the first point.

If you are looking for cameras or full vehicle CCTV solutions, ProVision has the solution for you. Give us a call to find out more.