Farming families have to be ever more vigilant when it comes to personal safety and the theft of livestock. Being able to track the whereabouts of family members, workers or livestock guards ‘out in the veld’ is of great assistance in this regard. Here, a GPS unit comes into its own. Although using satellites, the Global Positioning System had its genesis in the ground-based radio-navigation systems developed during the Second World War.
The 1990-1991 Gulf War was the first conflict in which GPS was widely used. In 1996, President Clinton signed legislation paving the way for the system to be used by civilians as well as the military. In a relatively short time, the GPS has evolved from a curiosity to an important tool for many people, including farmers. Indeed, agriculture has become highly reliant on accurate and consistent positioning data.
Personal security trackers
One of the spinoffs of GPS is the personal security tracker, many types of which are available online. I am currently trying out the rechargeable GT300 with a web-based online tracking platform. The dimensions are 73mm (L) x 45mm (W) x 16mm (H), and it weighs 54g. It has a keypad with an SOS button and the 3,7VDC/1100mAh battery has a standby time of 98 hours and a call time of 5,5 hours.
The GT300, which can easily be carried in a pocket, allows you to call two preset numbers in an emergency. Alternatively, it can be secreted in a vehicle, tractor or cargo container, or any other item you wish to monitor.
Live monitoring on your computer
The GT300 can be tracked live on the Internet by going to a website and logging in. The information gathered can be downloaded onto a computer, providing a record of the carrier’s peregrinations. The tracker uses a SIM card and cellphone reception is required. Currently, the unit sells for approximately R800. After the first year, a monthly fee of about R13 is charged.