What are Geofences?
If you have no idea what geofences are, don’t feel bad. If you type geofence into a Word document, you’ll get that red squiggly line below it, which tells you the term is so new that the world’s most widely used word-processing dictionary doesn’t know it yet. So let’s define it now.
A geofence is a location-based technology that works by drawing a virtual or imaginary border around an actual geographic area. (This area can be any size and any shape.) Using tracking technology (such as GPS), the person monitoring a geofence can receive alerts when specific devices or assets enter or leave the geofence area.
What Are Geofences Used for?
Geofences have many practical uses today, and the chances are you’ve encountered them yourself.
When you allow the mobile app from your favorite coffee place to “Enable Location Services” on your smartphone, for example, that company adds your device to the geofence it has drawn around that location (as well as its other locations). This is why, when you pass that coffee shop again, you might see an ad or text pop up on your phone offering you a discount if you stop by that day.
Manufacturers, distributors, or retailers can also use geofencing to monitor what’s happening with inventory at a given store or among a group of stores. By equipping its products with RFID tags, for example, a product manufacturer can use a geofence to get a clear picture of when and how many of its products are being sold at a specific retailer’s store (because those RFID-tagged items are leaving the geofence area the manufacturer has drawn around the store).
When it comes to fleet tracking for a business, a geofence can deliver several interesting benefits.
How a Geofence Can Help a Business Keep Track of its Vehicles
Let’s say your construction company maintains a fleet of vehicles and related assets—trucks, trailers, containers, cranes, etc.—and your company is beginning a large construction project for a new customer. You expect you’ll be sending several of your vehicles and large fixed assets to this site each day to complete the project. This type of scenario is what a geofence was made for!
If you have the right GPS vehicle tracking service, you’ll use that service’s online portal to create a geofence that covers the physical boundaries of the new job site. (Assuming you know the site’s address, cross streets, or coordinates, you should be able to zoom in from a satellite view and draw this geofence in just a few seconds.)
Now, using your GPS tracking app, you can monitor and record data about the status of your assets at that job site at all times, and receive any alerts you tell the service to send you. Here are some examples of how this can help your fleet management and your business in general.
You can receive alerts anytime one of your assets enters or leaves the geofence area.
This can help you make sure your drivers are arriving on time for their shifts. It can also help you resolve billing questions with clients, because you can provide recorded proof of when and for how long a given vehicle was at the job site.
And it can help you with timecards, because you’ll have an accurate record of when your workers are getting to the site and leaving—it’s the easy, automated version of punching in and out.
You’ll have warning if someone steals one of your assets.
Because you can create a geofence around literally any physical boundary, you can use this technology to secure your fleet anywhere. You’ll probably want to place geofences, for example, around your company’s garage, parking lot, or wherever you store your vehicles and large fixed assets overnight.
But in this hypothetical we’re discussing, having a geofence around a large job site or your company yard might also give you the advanced warning you’ll need for theft recovery.
So imagine you know your workers at that job site are just an hour or so into their shift—and you receive an alert that one of your trucks just left the perimeter. Now you can call your staff onsite and ask if someone on the team had to leave for some reason. If they tell you no, everyone’s working, then you might have just discovered a thief took your truck.
There’s also a bonus here, if you’re working with the right GPS tracking software. You can immediately locate your stolen vehicle online, monitor its route in real-time, and even let the police know where it’s heading. With the cops in hot pursuit, the thief is far less likely to be able to take your truck to a secure location and begin chopping it up—let alone steal any expensive tools or equipment you have stored in that vehicle. Just like this business owner.
Those are just a few of the many benefits of geofence technology—and, more broadly, of signing up with the right telematics tracking partner for your fleet.