GPS Accuracy and How Pet Sitter Plus V6 Can Help
GPS (Global Positioning System) has been a game-changer for Pet Sitters. Checking in and out of a service using GPS provides your clients with proof that they received the service they requested. This unique benefit makes GPS the essential modern-day tool for managing a Pet Sitting Business. But what happens when GPS gets it wrong? What happens when GPS shows that your sitter was in the wrong place? Is the sitter doing the wrong thing or is the technology at fault? And how do you know? In this article we will explain how Pet Sitter Plus release version 6 is going to help answer some of these important questions.
Most of our clients who use the Staff Activity report in Pet Sitter Plus will have noticed that while most GPS location readings are consistently accurate, a small amount of them are not. A few location readings might show your sitter to be many hundreds of meters away from the place they were meant to be or, worse still, the system might say that they were still right outside the previous client's address. This creates trust issues. If you confront your sitter and they tell you that they absolutely were where they were supposed to be when they checked in... who do you believe? Your sitter or your software?
"But what happens when GPS gets it wrong? What happens when GPS shows that your sitter was in the wrong place?"
In Pet Sitter Plus release version 6.0, we have introduced two new features that will help to answer this important question. But before we talk about features, here’s a little bit of information about how your phone works and why GPS is not always 100% accurate.
So why is GPS not always 100% accurate?
It’s probably not fair to say that GPS is not accurate – because generally speaking, it is. What is fair to say is that your phone will not always use GPS even if GPS is switched on. So why not? What’s going on?
Behind the scenes your phone is constantly trying to obtain the most accurate location that it can, but if your sitter enters a city tower block that is (say) 50 stories tall, the phone will often be disconnected from the satellites because the satellite signal cannot penetrate 50 layers of concrete. GPS at that point will stop functioning. When satellites are disconnected from your phone, your phone (or more specifically location services - a clever piece of software inside your phone) doesn’t just give up; it will try to source a location based on a different technique called Cell Tower Triangulation. Unlike GPS, Cell Tower Triangulation can provide results that vary in accuracy. If the phone can see more than three cell towers, it can triangulate to provide a pretty accurate location, but if the phone can only see two cell towers or less, then the location it provides might be hundreds of meters off. So how do we know if a location can be trusted or if it is inaccurate?
Location Accuracy in Pet Sitter Plus release version 6.0
In Pet Sitter Plus release version 6, we have now included a measure of location accuracy in the Staff Activity Report. While we have no power at all to improve your phone's ability to know its geographic location (we rely on Apple and Android to do that), we can tell you how accurate the location readings were at the time they were recorded.
Fortunately, when your phone passes its location to us (in the form of a set of GPS coordinates), it also tells us how accurate that reading is. We have now included this additional information in the Staff Activity report which lets you know if you can trust the location information (or not). Now, when you see a notification in the Staff Activity report, the accuracy reading might appear as “Accuracy 5m and 5m”, which means that both the check-in and the check-out location recordings were accurate to within 5 meters (that's as good as it gets and that is pretty accurate). Conversely, if you see “Accuracy 2000m and 5m”, then this means that whilst the check-out reading was accurate, the check-in reading was only accurate to within 2000 meters (which is not accurate at all). In this second example, the conclusion that you can draw as a user is that you cannot rely on the check-in location (it could be way off) but you can rely on the check-out reading. The general rule is this – the higher the accuracy reading, the less you can rely on it.
This super new feature provides a hugely useful new dimension to help you assess the validity of the location information that you see. You can now assess if you can trust it or if you should ignore it, which takes away some of the uncertainty out of managing your staff.
"...they have the option to refresh their location until the phone gets it right – another super tool to help you and your team manage the issues that relate to using GPS location information."
The other great new feature which helps improve accurate recording of the correct location in release version 6 is the sitter check-in map. The new check-in process provides your sitters with access to a location map which shows the sitter where the phone thinks they are prior to their checking-in. If the map shows the sitter in the wrong place, your sitter has the option to refresh their location until the phone gets it right, at which point they can check-in at what they now know to be the correct location. This is another super new tool to help you and your team manage the issues that relate to using GPS location information. To learn more about these excellent new features, please take some time to review the short video to this blog post. To help you with these issues and more, we aim to be delivering a beta version of Pet Sitter Plus as early as we can in 2019:
If you have any questions at all about the forthcoming release or about anything else relating to your Pet Sitter Plus installation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
Richard Booty CEO, Pet Sitter Plus