[HOT] Tracking vehicle movements

Ivan Gayton ivan.gayton at hotosm.org
Fri Jan 11 01:10:39 UTC 2019

Hi Jorieke,

My friend Ping (in CC) and I have been working on a very lightweight
application for vehicle tracking, specifically intended to work with SMS
only (no Internet required—it sends the positions with a formatted SMS
message on a particular schedule).

Code here: https://github.com/zestyping/fleetreporter and
https://github.com/zestyping/fleetreceiver. No server needed; the system
simply relies upon a central mobile device to receive all of the rover

This is emphatically NOT for everyone, or intended to be a replacement for
stuff like traccar or gpslogger; it's specifically targeted at a small,
relatively remote project with a few cars that they want to track, where
they don't have much Internet access but there's a bit of mobile phone
(SMS) coverage.

We've piloted it in the Central African Republic, where we've had issues
with the expense of SMS messages. In CAR, the mobile networks have terribly
unreliable SMS packages (you can buy a "forfait" of 100 SMS messages for a
small fee, but the "forfait" often doesn't work and depletes the main
balance of the phone very rapidly). This may be less of a problem in other

Bottom line: if the project that needs a solution has the following

- Poor mobile internet coverage but some SMS coverage (and SMS pricing is
reasonable and functional)
- Doesn't want to set up a server, just receive positions on a local device,

They should have a look at what we've done. Otherwise definitely look at
the GPSLogger, Traccar, or dedicated logger device options!


Ivan Buendía Gayton
Country Manager, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (hotosm.org)
+255 76 939 7811 (phone and WhatsApp)

Skype: sardo.numpsi
Twitter: @ivangayton

On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 3:47 AM Jorieke Vyncke <jorieke.vyncke at gmail.com>

> Hi all,
> @Ivan that sounds interesting! Could you tell me more?
> The other suggestions are forwarded, thank you again. Last is looking at
> them and will feedback soon!
> He was already impressed what you collected: "Wow... thanks @Jorieke! Let
> me look into the feedback" was his reaction this morning.
> And to Donal his points: I'm not sure about the context in Zimbabwe, but
> from my point of view using a GPS tracking system is indeed on the one hand
> a system that serves as control mechanism for drivers, but on the other
> hand it also serves as planning and budgeting tool, and most importantly
> also for security purposes for our people in the car. This latest makes it
> also difficult to just share the GPS traces that our teams take. It is a
> way the security of our staff can be damaged, so not so straightforward.
> All the best,
> Jorieke
> Op do 10 jan. 2019 om 10:10 schreef Donal Hunt <donal.hunt at gmail.com>:
>> I would echo Laurent's words. Deploy the solution that you need and
>> figure out the funding issues. Doing something like SMS-based reporting or
>> emailing data around the place will just move the cost burden elsewhere, be
>> more brittle and probably not get you what you want at the end of the day.
>> The initial problem statement seems to focus on how to verify the trust
>> that is being put in the partner undertaking the work. There are many many
>> ways to do that and technology is not always the answer. It would be
>> interesting to understand what other options have been identified and why
>> GPS-tracking has been decided on as the most effective means of delivering
>> the end result. If the GPS data being collected is also making it's way
>> back into the OSM ecosystem, that value should not be discounted.
>> Kind regards
>> Donal
>> On Wed, 9 Jan 2019 at 21:19, Laurent Savaete <laurent at where.tf> wrote:
>>> Hey Jorieke,
>>> What your question describes sounds like fleet management. I just found
>>> https://www.traccar.org/ which looks pretty well maintained (88
>>> contributors on github, latest code update only a few hours ago), is
>>> open-source and seems to provide exactly what you're after, without having
>>> to reinvent the wheel.
>>> Hope this helps,
>>> Laurent
>>> On 09/01/2019 19:22, John Whelan wrote:
>>> In Windows you can use a script to copy the files, compress them and
>>> send them.
>>> Android should have something equivalent.  If not Microsoft Visual
>>> Studio 2017 can build something that will run on android.
>>> We seem to be forever seeing requests from students to write software
>>> for OSM and HOT as a project.
>>> This one is a natural.
>>> Enabling GPS tracking is heavy on a battery life but you can buy power
>>> packs quite cheaply to extend the life.  I wouldn't connect it to the car
>>> battery, the voltage fluctuates to much and it will shorten the smartphone
>>> life down.
>>> So basically you want a program that will grab the GPS tracks every x
>>> minutes and compress them.  Technically zip is fine but the problem with
>>> zips is they can carry malware so use something else and gmail won't accept
>>> them anyway.
>>> Then it should just email these back to the server.  There should be an
>>> API to allow the software to write to something like Gmail on the
>>> smartphone.
>>> When gmail finds a connection it will send the messages home.  No
>>> fingers needed other than to connect to Wifi for gmail.  This one is the
>>> simplest.
>>> https://developers.google.com/gmail/api/guides/sending has got the
>>> basics.
>>> The other way is to use the signal that the phone uses to connect to the
>>> mast.  There are 140 / 160 characters at the end of the packet which are
>>> unused.  This is the basis of SMS text messaging.  In Europe, North America
>>> phone plans often come with unlimited SMS text messaging, Africa maybe
>>> different.  The advantage is you can collect the data in real time.  The
>>> disadvantage is the store and forward method of email is a bit more robust.
>>> There are SMS APIs that will run on a smartphone but my impression is
>>> these vary according to the phone so an SMS based solution that ran on any
>>> phone might be more difficult to build but someone who knows more about SMS
>>> might be in a better position to sort something out.
>>> Cheerio John
>>> Jorieke Vyncke wrote on 2019-01-09 10:48 AM:
>>> Thanks a lot for all your suggestions!
>>> I suppose easy to use is core, so options with manually copying traces
>>> is probably not the best solution.
>>> However I will forward all your suggestions to Last, and will leave it
>>> up to him to decide what is the best option for them on the ground!
>>> If there are more ideas, they still welcome :)
>>> Thanks a lot!
>>> Jorieke
>>> Op wo 9 jan. 2019 om 14:26 schreef Pierre Béland <pierzenh at yahoo.fr>:
>>>> Hi Jorieke
>>>> There are small vehicule gps logger, some very precise reading various
>>>> satellite networks. I tried a Columbus. It did work very well but could not
>>>> replace the battery.
>>>> Search simply for vehicule gps logger. This Ebay link show various
>>>> models, some with an USB connection and / or sim card.
>>>> https://www.ebay.ca/sch/i.html?_nkw=vehicle+gps+data+logger
>>>> regard
>>>> Pierre
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