GPS tracking

Choosing the Right GPS Tracking Device for Remote Operations

Remote work can bring unexpected challenges and dangers. Use this guide to focus on what's most important when it comes to keeping your workers safe.

Workers in the utility industry often find themselves in rural, remote areas with little to no ways of communicating with the outside world or for anybody to track their status and location. This presents some obvious safety concerns that can often be hard to fix. This guide will highlight six key considerations you should take into account when choosing the right GPS tracking device for remote operations and provides detailed information about how TracPlus can help meet those requirements.

Truck in forest
1-Accurate and Reliable Coverage

Perhaps the most important factor when looking into remote GPS tracking devices is whether you will have reliable, accurate coverage of the area you will be operating in. For many remote operators, this question becomes more complicated, as they spend extended periods operating in areas with poor or entirely without cellular coverage, which most GPS trackers rely on. Poor cellular coverage will significantly reduce your GPS tracker’s accuracy and consume more battery as it struggles to find a signal. No cellular coverage at all will result in an operator being completely off the grid, with no way of knowing where they are, if they are okay, or what the status of their operation is. Because of this, using a GPS tracker with satellite coverage is critical and cannot be forgotten for remote operators.

Thankfully the RockSTAR can help solve these issues effectively. By utilizing satellite technology, the RockSTAR is capable of keeping you connected to the outside world no matter how remote you are. When cellular coverage is spotty or unavailable, the RockSTAR operates on the Iridium Network which provides satellite coverage all over the world. Thanks to this, you can rest assured that no matter how remote, operators' positions will always be recorded and relayed back to base to ensure their safety.



2-Real-time Tracking and Status Reporting

Following on from having accurate and reliable coverage, real-time tracking and reporting are critical aspects of ensuring safety. Every operation has different requirements and challenges; therefore every operation will have different specifications and outcomes. Some may only require short periods in dangerous, remote areas, meaning operations managers may want more regular transmissions to know their workers are safe. Other operations, however, may involve long periods of relatively low-risk work in remote terrain, requiring more conservation of battery life so only one or two transmissions a day may be necessary. Regardless, the ability to track and report locations in real-time is critical to operational success.

The RockSTAR has the adaptability to meet all of these needs. With customizable transmission times all the way from every 5 seconds to every 24 hours, the RockSTAR has the ability to adapt to whatever your operational requirements may be. The RockSTAR is also capable of creating geofences which will create an alert if a worker leaves the defined area, proving extremely useful to ensure workers don’t go outside of their operation zone. In case of emergencies, temperature, and collision alerts can be set up as well, which will automatically send alerts too. All these features, including an easy-to-use emergency distress button, make real-time tracking and status reporting as convenient as possible.

3–Real-time Communication Capabilities

Similarly to how real-time tracking is critical, real-time communication is just as important in the context of remote utility workers. Being able to send and receive messages in real-time allows for a level of operational flexibility that cannot be achieved any other way. In high-risk, low response time situations, the ability to directly communicate can often be the defining factor between life and death.

The RockSTAR presents users with the ability to effectively communicate both ways in real-time. With a high visibility, monochromatic OLED display, received messages are easy to read, no matter the conditions. A 5-button keypad and specific alert button make it easy to respond as well. However, if a remote worker requires sending a more elaborate message, the RockSTAR is equipped with Bluetooth LE capabilities. This way compatible devices can connect and send messages through TP Connect, our free IOS service that allows you to send long messages from your personal device via the RockSTAR unit.

4-Battery Life

For some utility workers, extended periods in remote locations are sometimes part of the job. Whether the requirements for the operation are one day or thirty days, you need a GPS and communications device with the battery life capabilities that you can trust to last as long as you do. Without a device that has proven, long-lasting battery life, remote workers may end up stranded with no way to communicate, no way to know where they are, and no way for operations managers to find them. Situations like these are often dire and can easily be avoided.

Luckily the RockSTAR has an internal rechargeable LiPo battery that has a significant battery life being capable of up to 2500 Iridium transmissions on a single charge. This increased battery life combined with the customisable transmission times allows for a wide range of adaptability in RockSTAR’s battery life.

Transmit rate Transmissions per day Expected Days
Every 1 minute 1440 ~2
Every 5 minutes 288 ~9
Every 15 minutes 96 ~26
Every 30 minutes 48 ~52
Every 1 hour 24 ~104
Every 4 hours 6 ~400


Graph from Ground Control website

5-Durability and Weather Resistance

With remote working comes remote terrain, and often rough terrain. In rough conditions, having a GPS unit that is capable of withstanding the forces of nature is another mission-critical factor to consider. Whether the conditions are wet, windy, hot, humid, or downright stormy, your GPS tracking device should be able to resist it all. If a remote worker falls while traversing steep, crumbling terrain and lands on their GPS device, it should be rugged enough to withstand that impact and still function.

Ground Control manufactured the RockSTAR units with this need of a ruggedized build in mind. Designed to be robust and reliable, the RockSTAR is built to last with a sturdy design. Its operating temperature ranges from -30 to 60 degrees Celsius and can still operate in up to 75% relative humidity environments. With a waterproof IP-67 rating as well, RockSTARs are capable of being submerged up to 1 meter underwater for up to 30 minutes. All of this allows the RockSTAR to perform optimally, no matter what conditions or terrain it's found in. That way when a remote worker is in the field, they can be confident in their GPS to operate in a reliable and trustworthy manner.



6-User Friendly Interface

Having a host of important features in your GPS tracking device may be important, but knowing how to use them effectively is just as crucial. If a device is too complicated to operate or a remote worker hasn't been trained enough on how to operate their device, then it's almost worthless. A dynamic blend of user-friendly interfaces and training is required to ensure remote workers know how to use their assets, and operations managers know how to operate them as well.

As has been mentioned before, RockSTAR's have a simple, user-friendly interface containing an OLED screen, 5 buttons, and an easy-to-use emergency button. The user interface on the RockSTAR screens has also been designed with simplicity in mind, allowing remote workers to quickly and easily begin operating the device with little to no hassle.

Of course operating the device is only half the battle, operations managers must have a platform that allows them to view, communicate with and manage (sometimes multiple) assets all from one place. Thankfully the RockSTAR is designed to integrate seamlessly with TracPlus Cloud, our easy to use operating platform. With a host of features TracPlus Cloud is the platform to monitor and communicate with any assets in the field. TracPlus also provides training on how to operate TracPlus Cloud in order to ensure that operators are able to get the most out of our platform. TracPlus has also recently released a new and improved iOS app allowing for an easy way to view and communicate with assets from right in your pocket.

On top of all this TracPlus is also hardware agnostic, meaning you can incorporate multiple different GPS units from different brands into one, open environment. This way operators can be provided with a single view of the truth.


If you want to learn more about the RockSTAR and how it can keep remote operators safe, check out our free webinar which runs through different components of the Rockstar and how to operate it.

  • How to set up the Rockstar (step by step process)
  • Using the RockSTAR’s main features and functionalities
  • How to connect the RockSTAR with the TracPlus platform

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