News Feature | January 17, 2014

Government IT News For VARs — January 14, 2014

Bernadette Wilson

By Bernadette Wilson

SageQuest GPS Vehicle Management

Over the past week, the news was filled with stories about GPS tracking technology. The GAO reports automakers are collecting and storing data from on-board navigation devices, and police and emergency responders are using the technology to locate the closest unit to an emergency to reduce response times. Along with the use of the technology are privacy concerns and a possible target for hackers.

GAO Report Says Automakers Collect Navigation Data

A UPI article details a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the practices of General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. The GAO’s report states the automakers are collecting and storing data from on-board navigation systems. In general, the automakers collect data to “assist customers with traffic updates, emergency roadside assistance, and to track stolen vehicles.” Quoting the Detroit News, the article states, “Most motorists do not know what information is being tracked and cannot opt out of the data collection programs.” Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, chair of a judiciary subcommittee on privacy, is calling for automakers to do more to protect their customers’ privacy.

Concerns Arise Over Use Of GPS Tracking Data: Mileage Tax, Privacy Issues

An Inquisitr article questions the use of GPS tracking and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication devices and how they could be used to assess mileage tax or make drivers vulnerable to hackers or other privacy issues — possible concerns for your customers with vehicle fleets. The article includes an excerpt from a GAO report on vehicle tracking systems: “The continued progress of V2V technology development hinges on a decision that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to make … One option would be to pursue a rule requiring their inclusion in new vehicles.”

GPS Tracking Devices Enable Command Post To Locate Firefighters

The Florida Forest Service is now equipping each of its firefighters with GPS tracking devices. This measure is a response to the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona in the summer of 2013, in which 19 firefighters lost their lives. GPS devices will enable command posts to pinpoint the location of each firefighter at any time. Additionally, if firefighters assist other agencies, their location the Florida Forest Service can still track them. 

Patrol Cars Outfitted With GPS Technology

An Eagle-Tribune article reports the patrolman’s union in Haverhill, MA, has agreed to allow the city to install GPS tracking devices on police patrol vehicles. Following the lead of other municipalities — including Boston —  in the state, the measure is intended to improve response time by allowing dispatchers to designate the closest vehicle to an emergency as the first responder. There are no limits in the contract, however, to how the technology can be used. The article says Haverhill has used GPS devices in the past, installing them on city trucks after workers were caught doing private jobs during their work hours.  

AVL Technology Considered To Decrease Emergency Response Time

An article in the Baltimore Sun says Harford County, MD, officials are considering reducing the response time for emergency vehicles with automatic vehicle locator technology. The technology will enable dispatchers the ability to see where vehicles are, and send the closest to the scene of an emergency.