Before I sit down and make the mistake of start writing my own, I wanted to know my options for good, modern, fleet tracking options that are not too expensive. What I am looking for is something that doesn't look like it was built in 1995 and that will not cost me an arm and a leg as I scale up. Brownie points if the project is Open Source, but using a hosted solution will do just fine provided that it is not too expensive.

  • What are people using to track on the field assets in realtime?

  • If price was not an issue, what would you use?

Update: Hardware is not much of an issue for this project. There are several spare servers with plenty of bandwidth and redundant drives connected to the Internet 24/7. As far as client hardware, there are several of-the-shelf devices with GPS and connection to the internet, not to mention that some of these devices will be modified smart phones. My concentration is now more related to the server and web front end software I will use for this.

Update 2: I was asked for a use case - so I will give a simplified version. A company that does deliveries wants to know where their fleet is. There are several managers and each of them manage a chunk of delivery trucks. Each of the managers (there are about 100) is only interested in their delivery trucks (each has around 20) and wants to see them in realtime at - the same time -on a web map. Each driver wants to see where their partners are, too - but this is secondary. Privacy issues are just that each manager will be able to see their own drivers only. I have any other data required (streets, geofences, etc - but that is a separate discussion - I am looking only for this basic functionality). Yes, some time-based reports about where the trucks are/were will be necessary.

  • What is the use case, i.e. is there any driver intervention? Are there privacy issues? What other data is required to integrate and what is the frequency of that?
    – Willy
    Apr 23, 2012 at 10:35
  • @Willy I updated the question to address your three questions Apr 25, 2012 at 15:20

10 Answers 10


This is more of a long comment rather than an answer but New York are rolling out bus tracking with OpenGeo. The Portland metro area are also using an opensource project called Trimet for tracking all public transit. Not sure if either project is directly relevant but maybe some of the code or libraries used are.

  • "Trimet" is actually the name of the organization that provides all public transportation in the Portland area, not the name of the software. But they do use a lot of open source software to track and publish their data to the web. Apr 23, 2012 at 5:10
  • You're correct - I'm blanking on the name of this project. I feel like it is Tri something....
    – djq
    Apr 23, 2012 at 8:43
  • OpenTripPlanner, perhaps? Apr 23, 2012 at 14:13
  • OpenTripPlanner is more of an application server that exposes apis to do operations/query to the network graph. It does an amazing job at it. But it is not made for tracking realtime moving assets... :( Apr 23, 2012 at 18:46
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    One of the links that you gave had an article with a whole bunch of conceptual stuff. Nevertheless, it also had a link to OneBusAway onebusaway.org which is an Open Source project from the University of Washington. Following that, I found a link to the GitHub account which is the closest thing to what I was looking for github.com/OneBusAway/onebusaway/wiki I am awarding you the bounty since your link made me dig and find the solution I wanted. Nevertheless, I will put the answer separately to make it clear. Apr 29, 2012 at 18:34

After following some links from an article that Celenius mentioned I ran into Mining Fleet Management. An Open Source project by the Cronj that is developing Apache licensed modern applications (web, iPhone, Android) and modules to solve tracking problems.

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    And of course, since his link made me reach the right answer, I gave him the bounty :) Apr 29, 2012 at 18:42

Don't you need to have some kind of hardware to do this?

There's a good company called Network Fleet, that not only gives just location, but diagnostics information about the vehicles, our customers use this, but I'm not sure about pricing.

  • I looked at the marketing material they had. Although I don't think I will use them - this answer does fit the bill. Thank you. Apr 29, 2012 at 2:04

Inthinc offers a cloud based service, but they don't expose an API (AFAIK), so I guess you're stuck with their web clients.


Have you looked at GISCloud? I suspect some development would be required, but hopefully would be less... Between them, OpenGeo, and QGIS Server, I'd say there should be something that's likely based on PostGre/PostGIS. Based on something like Open Data Kit, or other method of getting locations to stream/send back to your server, and either pushing that data back to a MapServer/other Open Source server, and/or pushing it to a cloud based service like GISCloud.

Costs for this are either based on in-house resources, and/or consulting/training costs by the open source community (that's how they make their money after all). You're not going to get something for free unless you can live with the "out of the box" open source solutions (check out OSGeo for a catalogue/examples), but you could get something pretty cheap, depending on exactly how much customisation you want, and how much in-house expertise you've got.

I'm not familiar with the queue issues you point out in your comment above... but am pretty sure you can find some open source consultants who are.

ESRI of course offers various solutions as well, as you've got linked in... Sometimes their costs are less than the time/$/energy that you have to put in


Hardware is going to cost you far more than software on this one. You need to figure out your hardware and software at the same time. Personally, I am leaning towards FME Server 2012. AVL is basically just a sensor array, and it looks like FME server handles sensor arrays very well. Process the pushes from your field devices along with any diagnostic strings and output them as GeoRSS, GeoJson, archive to a database, send email alerts, etc. And then use an open source mapping option like Leaflet or Openlayers to display your feeds.


GPSGate Server - http://gpsgate.com/products/gpsgate_server


It is pretty easy to write your own 'software' platform to do this and to make it as modern as you like. All you need is a table which store the points, date and device id; and some front end logic to select and display the track.

Every device (eg xexun trackers) sends and utp request consisting of the NMEA string to an server:port behind which a php daemon catches all these messages and stores them as raw data in the database. A trigger on that table converts them to rows in parsed GPS information.

I've made it myself to track a fleet of cars. Works like a charm!

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    For something that scales it is not that simple. Yes, one can write code that uses traditional blocking servers that do the data insertion and return within the same request. But for realtime tracking of say, 500 vehicles, you will need a non-blocking server or at least a decent queue like RabbitMQ. If you are not familiar with the differences between blocking servers (like pre-fork Apache) vs Event Based servers (like nginx), I would recommend watching this presentation from Ryan Dahl about the philosophy behind nodejs yuiblog.com/blog/2010/05/20/video-dahl Apr 23, 2012 at 18:43
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    I wasn't aware of the size of the requested system. Thank you for the blocking/non-blocking and queue'ing information on the yuiblog! Was worth reading/viewing it !
    – stUrb
    May 5, 2012 at 15:51

Given your requirements, OpenGTS should fit the bill... http://opengts.sourceforge.net/

  • If you look at my question, you will that I have a link to OpenGTS. I am looking for something that is not to outdated Apr 23, 2012 at 0:49
  • Fair enough. I've seen working implementations that use Google Maps for client side presentation that look quite modern. I'm not familiar with any other tools though, good luck. Apr 23, 2012 at 1:03

I want to recommend GPSWOX. They provide vehicle tracking systems, gps tracking software for devices and mobile phones. Fleet management also their sphere.

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