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Is Your GPS Tracker Device Safe?

Concern over the cybersecurity of connected cars has been dominating the news. As everything around us becomes more connected, it’s only natural to ask questions about security. This extends to the connected devices and gear in our cars and trucks. How do you know your gps tracker is safe?

Beware of Low-Cost GPS Devices

The quality of devices can vary greatly. There are a number of low-cost GPS tracking systems out there that could jeopardize your safety due to poor manufacturing. Before you connect a GPS tracker to your vehicle, you should check that the manufacturer has properly tested the safety of the device.
Safety is a top concern with anything plugged into the diagnostic port of a vehicle. Geotab fully tests the hardware of each Geotab GO7 telematics device to verify safety and performance. Our thorough testing ensures that it will not impact the vehicle’s sensitive data communication system.
Suggested ReadingHow to Transferring Telematics Devices Between Vehicles
It should be reassuring to know that GPS tracking, also known as OBD-based telematics, has been adopted by some of the largest fleets in North America and is gaining traction around the world. GPS tracking technology is critical to keeping the many industries up and running, such as transportation and logistics, construction, and government fleets. Enterprise-sized fleets have a rigorous approval process and would not implement any technology solution unless it met their standards for safety and security.
Business Fleet of Vehicles Car to Truck

Testing Stages of Geotab GPS Tracker Devices

Each Geotab GO7 telematics unit is tested at least four times. The testing occurs as printed circuit board (PCB) components are assembled to make the final product. First, the main PCB assembly is tested. It is then tested again once the modem or daughter board is attached. Next, the assembly is tested another time at Geotab. Just before shipping, each Geotab GO device is spot checked with a power up test.

Stage 1: Device Functionality Tests

The first set of tests are carried out at the contract manufacturer (CM). The core functionality of the device is tested here. Testing includes:

  • Programming the microcontroller (MCU)
  • Communication (COMMS) with the MCU
  • Testing the clock/timer
  • Testing MCU RAM
  • Programming a unique device ID
  • Loading default device parameters
  • Testing the flash memory
  • Testing the accelerometer
  • All supported protocols at all speeds (CAN, Legacy, VIOM, IOX, protocols etc)
  • IOX port tested, including triggering overcurrent protection
  • LEDs
  • Buzzer
  • GPS module version, latch and signal strength

Stage 2: Additional Tests

The contract manufacturer also carries out the second set of tests. At this point, the daughter board is attached and the same tests performed previously are repeated. The CM also performs the following checks:

  • Testing MCU COMMS with modem
  • Checking the modem version
  • Checking modem signal strength
  • Testing the SIM card

Stage 3: Final Tests at Geotab

The third set of tests occur at our own Geotab facilities. We repeat all the tests here with the final SIM card fitted, depending on product code ordered. Additionally, we test:

  • Modem APNs are programmed
  • Modem parameters are programmed
  • Final device parameters loaded
  • All test data and pointers are cleared
  • Label printed and affixed

Lastly, before shipping all devices are powered up for a final inspection. Geotab confirms the LEDs, buzzer, firmware are functioning properly, the case serial matches the device serial and looks for any visual defects one last time.
Each time the device is tested, all the results are uploaded to the Geotab production database. We can detect device, tester, and CM issues. If devices fail in the field and are returned we can check them against the results uploaded to the database. Geotab then writes additional tests to catch any component or module defects. With this system in place, we have an extremely low hardware failure rate.


Find out how Geotab uses Big Data for Quality Assurance Testing. Also, visit our FAQs page for answers to questions like these:

  1. What cellular networks are available for the Geotab device?
  2. What happens if I put my Geotab GO device into another vehicle?
  3. How do firmware upgrades work?

Author: John Kyes, Test Engineer – Geotab Inc
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