Localization and Tracking Vehicles: GPS vs. Bluetooth Beacon vs. RFID

by | May 11, 2018

1 or 2? 2 or 1? We are a part of a society that is constantly bench marking, one against the other. Which is better? Most accurate? Cost Effective? User friendly? After all of the pro/con lists, we are supposed to come to a decision and choose one that is “better” than that of the other(s) for our purpose. We have done just this in choosing the best technology to use in our sensors. This brings us to the big question of GPS (Global Positioning System), BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) for data collection?

GPS uses latitude, longitude and data-time to seek out information about individual vehicles. By using the distance and speed, one is able to estimate travel time. The systems are good for long distances and are constantly tracking, but that also means they’re battery draining. They also lack precision, which make them a poor choice for indoors, especially when large amounts of concrete are involved.  BLE tags are fairly new onto the market, only booming in 2013. The BLE tags can track basically any asset, indoors, outdoors and on various tiers. Though they can only track where readers are installed and have a limited battery life of 18-24 months. Passive RFID tags only work within a close range. In order to scan the tag, either the scanner or the tag must be brought to the other.

Sources: 12

Each device was created for a different purpose or application. When used for asset tracking, and keeping the above factors in mind, there is one device that stands out in particular. Bluetooth Low Energy tags work in various environments (indoors and out), and are not overpriced. They have the ability to track in real time, updating multiple times per second, yielding real results. BLE is not only used in transportation, but also in the cutting edge industry of healthcare.


Cost: cost of device for outright purchase or rental and installation of a device

Latency: the time delay in updating information from the time of occurrence

Positional Accuracy: the precision of the device in the data collected

Working Environment: indoor and outdoor capabilities