GPS tracker helps keep drivers honest

By Simon Hendery

Charles Wedd gets pinged every time he speeds.

Cameras and laser guns aside, when he gets back to the office an email will be waiting with details on where, when and how fast he was travelling.

Wedd inflicts this Big Brother regime on himself because his company, Here I Am, sells GPS vehicle tracking technologies, including "speed monitoring and management" services for businesses and families.

"I don't get many of them but it's just enough [to have an effect]," he says of the warning emails.

"I'm quite good now at sticking to within 100km/h, but it's been quite an educational process."

Wedd and his wife Kath Jones established Here I Am this year after identifying what they saw as a gap in the market for GPS tracking technology that could be easily accessed by customers over the internet.

Location details and travel history from a Here I Am GPS locator device in a vehicle or carried by a person are relayed to the company's server, where they can be accessed by any internet-capable device - computer, PDA or cellphone.

Clients can view a visual image of a vehicle's journey and receive emails or text messages when it speeds or travels outside a designated zone.

Wedd says as well as targeting commercial clients such as trucking firms, Here I Am is marketing its service to families as a "teen driver management tool".

Jones, a psychologist, said the aim was to keep teenagers safe by discouraging speeding while still allowing them the freedom to travel.

"It's all about entering into contracts with your teenagers, giving them some responsibility by allowing them to use the family car, but with conditions," she said.

"One condition being that you will know exactly where they are and what speed they are travelling."

The service is not cheap. The in-vehicle locator units sell for between $948 and $1349, plus a monthly charge of $35 to $60.

Wedd says the service has attracted interest from the commercial sector because it allows businesses to keep track of fleet movements. The technology can even prevent the theft of expensive earthmoving machines or other heavy equipment through a feature that allows a vehicle's engine to be turned off remotely.

"It can also be used to effectively manage vehicle fleets for companies such as couriers, pizza delivery and tradesmen, eliminating improper use of vehicles as well as achieving fuel efficiency through better route planning and faster, more efficient deliveries," he says.

"It also offers business owners peace of mind knowing where their staff and equipment are."

Wedd says a number of aspects of Here I Am's technology are unique and the company is eyeing export opportunities.

"Once we've got everything sorted we do intend to move [into exporting], probably with a slightly different focus. If we go to the UK, for example, there will be more of a focus on personal security, less perhaps on speed management."

Here I Am

* Who: Managing director Charles Wedd.
* Where: Wainui, Northwest of Silverdale.
* What: Internet-based GPS tracking technology.
* Why: "We saw a gap in the market that currently offers a fragmented range of GPS devices and services so we've designed a fully integrated system."

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