Various forms of GPS vehicle tracking devices exist and are typically classified as “passive” or “active”, so what’s the difference?
“Passive” GPS tracking devices store information such as GPS location, vehicle speed, and can trigger events such as start/stop or ignition on/off. When a vehicle returns to a predetermined location, the tracking device’s information is wirelessly sent to a host computer. Typical passive systems will automatically send data wirelessly, however these devices are not capable of real-time tracking.
“Active” GPS tracking devices generally collect the same information, but are enabled to work with cellular or satellite networks. Using these wireless networks, they’re able to transmit data to a computer or data center for further evaluation. Additionally, these systems are commonly web-based so tracking data can be accessed from any capable device with an internet connection.
Many modern GPS tracking systems combine active and passive tracking capabilities so that when a cellular network is available, the device will connect to it and transmit data to a server. When a network is not available, the device will store data using internal memory and will store this information until it can be downloaded using a WIFI network (must be in range, usually when parked) or when a cellular network is available. To reduce costs, systems are usually set to transmit data at certain time intervals such as 1 minute, 5 minutes, or 10 minutes.