GPS is an amazing piece of technology that allows anyone, anywhere with a receiving unit to pinpoint their exact location to within a few meters. It makes it possible to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, wherever it’s hiding on this planet.

But like all technology it’s not infallible, it can make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes have led gullible users down a merry path of tragic turns. Here’s our top five, along with some helpful tips on how you can avoid making the list.

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If you’ve been browsing GPS devices you might have seen some of them, particularly GPS-enabled smartphones, boasting A-GPS. What is A-GPS? What are the benefits of Assisted GPS, and why is it a good feature to have?

A-GPS, which stands for Assisted GPS (what is GPS?), helps a standalone GPS unit to lock on to a satellite signal. Known as the TTFF (time-to-first-fix), this startup period can be challenging for GPS units where the satellite signal is weak or distorted by surrounding buildings.

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Tires that are slightly under-inflated might seem like a trivial matter and, over short distances, they generally are. But change the distance or the number of fleet vehicles with tires that haven’t been inflated to the correct pressure and the effect is significant. And it’s hurting more than just your fuel economy.

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In our last post we talked about the benefits of using GPS when traveling overseas. Most tourists would agree that once you’ve used GPS to help you get around, discover local attractions, or find your way out of trouble, you’ll never go back. Today, more than ever, GPS is becoming tightly integrated with how many of us find our way around, do business or learn about our surroundings.

So how can you make the most of GPS? It’s free, it’s very useful, and it’s everywhere (except underwater or in a concrete bunker!). Previously only available with dedicated GPS devices, modern smartphones have put the power of GPS into the hands of just about everyone. And, with a proliferation of GPS-enabled smartphones available, software developers are not wasting any time building apps to take advantage of GPS, offering a growing range of solutions that offer ‘near-me’ services.

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It appears that nothing can slow the growth of tourism. Despite political instability, declining economies and the proliferation of terrorism, the lure of the overseas adventure continues to draw millions of people every year.

One thing that is making overseas travel more attractive is the growing number of location-based services that use GPS and act as a travelers very own tour guide.

For example, you could be walking down a street in Manhattan with no clue about where you are or nearby attractions. But with your personal GPS device in hand and a location-based app, in a matter of minutes you could be listening to a walking tour of the architecture you’re standing next to or viewing a list of adjacent restaurants offering special discounts. Later in the day you decide you need to organize some accommodation. And once again you turn to your handy GPS device and start up an app that lists all nearby accommodation options, with prices, current offers and walking directions.

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Many GPS devices display your current speed, based on a simple calculation of how much distance you are covering in a given time period. However, drivers are often confused with these readings since it generally varies significantly from the vehicle’s speedometer.

So which speedometer is more accurate? Which one should be used to determine if you are driving within the posted speed limits? How does it relate to using speeding alerts in your telematics program?

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With the new Work Health and Safety Bill, due for release on January 1, 2012, Australian businesses need to review their workplace safety, as the bill further extends the scope of business liability for employee welfare.

Of particular interest to fleet managers is that vehicles are defined as a ‘workplace’ and a duty of care is imposed on employers to ensure the health and safety of their mobile employees within this workplace.

Fines up to $600,000 or imprisonment

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If you own construction equipment you don’t want it getting into the wrong hands. The construction manager of a building site in England had a rude shock to find his JCB bulldozer had gone missing. Turns out it was in the hands of a madman, who had stolen the bulldozer from the constructin site and was rampaging through the village, using the bulldozer as a “ram rod”, destroying gravestones in the local cemetery.

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If you’re a rental car company there’s a certain amount of risk you incur when you rent out a vehicle. You trust that the majority of customers will treat your vehicles with respect and a reasonable duty of care. But there are always a certain percentage who feel renting a car gives them license to treat it like it was their brother’s go-kart.

The growing number of ‘rental car abuse’ videos on YouTube continues to highlight the potential loss faced by car rental firms, with much of the damage hidden from inspection on the vehicle’s return.

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Download your own GPS mapping kit

When Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt recently spoke to the press about the future of mobile commerce he painted an almost sci-fi picture of the simple process of buying a pair of pants. And much of it links back to location-based services, something we’ve talked about before on this blog.

Location-based services and mobile commerce = Big opportunities

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