What’s A Geofence? (And What Do They Do?)

If you own a GPS tracker, or have been shopping for one, you have probably come across the term geofence or geofencing. This isn’t a very commonly used word outside of GPS applications, so it may be a bit confusing. In this short article, we’ll explain geofences in plain language. We’ll even look at how to use them (using the GoTrack app as an example).

A Quick Definition

Example of geofencing on a GPS display
Example geofence

Let’s start with an easy to understand explanation. A geofence is an imaginary border drawn around a point by a GPS system. You simply pick a specific location and decide how large of an area to include inside the imaginary fence. If you are using a GoTrack product, first log into your account on GoTrack.com. Once you have, find the tab on the right side of the screen titled Locations (it is between Fleets and Users on the top right corner of the page). By clicking on it you will see a list of your locations. These locations are the centers of your geofences.

Starting on the left, the first column (“Location”) lists the locations you have defined. To the right the “For” column names the users associated with this location. Of course, this only matters if you have multiple users. Next is the “Address” column, which constians the street address of the location. The next column to the right is titled “Radius.” This shows how large of an area around the location is included in the geofence. The final column (“Notify?”) will have a YES entry if you have set up any alerts for this geofence.

Setting Up Geofencing

If you need to create new geofences for your GoTrack devices, just click “Add New Location” near the top right corner of the screen. When you do, a new screen will be shown. On the right will be a map of North America and on the left is a simple form that will allow you to define a new geofence. It is very easy to create new geofences; it only take a few seconds! As an example, let’s create a geofence around your home.

Name Your New Geofence

Naming a geofence in GoTrack App

First, enter a title for the geofence under the “Name” field. In our example, HOME seems like a great title. Under that you can select “Account Level” or “Device Level.” Selecting Account Level creates a geofence that is seen by all devices (if your account has multiple devices). If you choose “Device Level,” a single GPS tracking unit is associated with the geofence. A dropdown list will appear allowing you to select the devices you wish to add. Finally, you are also able to choose a color for your geofence. This is simply a matter of personal preference; it makes no difference to actual operation.

Enabling Alerts

You are then asked “Send notification when you enter/exit this location?” Check the box so you will receive alerts when your tracker moves through the geofence. Next you will select the geofence’s shape. It can be Circular (with the precise location in the center) or Polygonal (which allows you to select the shape of the geofence). Honestly, it is easier to select circular.

Under the selection between Circular and Polygonal is a blank field. Enter the address or latitude and longitude coordinates for the center of your geofence. In our example you would simply type your home’s street address. Next, you are asked to select a radius in miles (assuming you are creating a circular geofence). You can narrow the geofence down to a .1 mile radius (which is probably best for a home) or make it as large as 100 miles. Finally, click the “Create Location” button to add your new geofence to your tracking system. Whenever your car moves through this imaginary circle drawn around your home address, whether it is moving towards it or away from it, your system will alert you.

Family Uses For A Geofence

Families should use geofencing to get the most out of a GPS tracker. Using our example, the geofence set up around your house will alert you whenever the family car leaves or returns home. This can help you in a number of ways. It allows you to see that your teen driver has left for school on time or got home before curfew. Speaking of school, geofencing an area around your teen’s school or job you will be able to see that they are arriving on time every day. A geofence set up around your home will also alert you if someone tries to take your car once it is parked at the end of the day.

Business Fleet Geofencing Uses

As useful as geofencing is for families, business can get even more use out of the system. Establishing a geofence around your business allows you to record when your fleet leaves and returns every day. This could easily replace a time clock. If your fleet follows a consistent route, geofences can be set up for each stop. This way you are automatically alerted as your vehicles progress through the work day. You can make sure everything is on schedule without interrupting your drivers. It will also allow you to see which stops take the most time. Construction firms can place geofences around job sites with expensive equipment outfitted with a battery operated GPS tracker (like the TTU-720). Then, if anyone takes the equipment outside of the geofence an alert is sent!

Geofences do not have to be centered on locations where you do business. If there are locations that you expect your employees to avoid then set up a geofence around it. Whenever one of your company vehicles moves into the virtual zone you created around the banned location, you will receive an alert. If the vehicle enters and then leaves the zone in a matter of seconds, you know your employees were simply passing by. However, if the vehicle remains within the geofence for any length of time you can check on exactly what is happening.

Your use of geofencing is really only limited by your imagination. You will undoubtedly create many new uses specific to your family or business now that you understand them. You can also learn more ways to use GPS tracking to your advantage in the article Five Ways Your Business Should Be Using Vehicle Tracking.

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