NZ firm readies GSM tracking service

Tracking technology that uses the GSM mobile phone system is to be launched within months by an Auckland firm.

Tracking technology that uses the GSM mobile phone system is to be launched within months by an Auckland firm.

Kerry Harris, executive director of Network Technology, says his three-person company has spent over $1 million over six years on research, salaries and securing the patents for a product he says will have international applications.

Network Technology’s cellular technology, Secure Net Technology (SNT), can calculate the global position of a small locating unit anywhere in New Zealand covered by Vodafone’s GSM cellular network. It will then transmit this data over the network to a remote monitoring station that will display its geographical location on a computer screen.

The company has been trialling the system with mobile phones, working in conjunction with Vodafone.

“Our concept is that you can pick up a little box about half the size of a video cassette from Harvey Norman. You hide it in your vehicle and away you go,” Harris says.

He sees applications for vehicles and boat security, automatic trucking logs, refrigerated container monitoring, keeping track of security personnel and prisoners, and the monitoring and control of industrial plant and processes.

Beta trials of the system are underway and Harris expects commercial products will be available within three months.

Harris estimates a cost around $500 to $600 for the system, which he says is far cheaper than existing tracking devices.

His system only responds when activated by a person using a PC or laptop over a standard internet connection. Using the secure website, still in development, users enter a password, a customer number and a unit ID number. The data will be encrypted and “it’s pretty impregnable”, he says.

Harris says eventually selling the system is an option. “Whoever brings along the cheque with the biggest numbers,” he says, but is hoping development and manufacturing will continue in New Zealand.

Nettec is among the first three Kiwi firms to benefit from, a programme involving Compaq, Clear and Microsoft, which provide technology support for three months while producing prototypes or development ideas while seeking ongoing funding and support.

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