The industry was invented by Tracker in 1986 in the United States of America. The history of telematics was determined by an automotive telematics author and academic Dennis Foy and the name telematic is from a Greek expression "tele" which means "far away".

The term telematics describes the focus of long distance transmission of computer based information. The term later developed to mean automation in automobiles such as the invention of the emergency warning system for vehicles. The telematics umbrella covered global positioning systems [GPS] navigation, intergrated hands-free cell phones, wireless safety communications and automatic driving assistance systems.


Vehicle Telematics is the use of computers and telecommunications to enhance the functionality, productivity and security of both vehicles and the drivers.

Definition - is a term used to define connected vehicles interchanging electronic data. These systems may be used for collecting road tolls, managing road usage, tracking fleeting vehicle locations, recovering stolen vehicles etc. ""

  • In commercial terms, vehicle telematics is defined as the convergence of wireless data communications with vehicles equipment communication devices and some form of back office management systems; which process the information from the embedded device in the mobile vehicle.
  • "The telematics systems are increasingly used to provide remote diagnostics, this means a vehicle's built in system will identify a mechanical or electronical problem and the telematics package can automatically make this information known to the manufacturer service organization. Monitored systems are also capable of notifying any problems to the owner of the vehicle via e-mail." www.telematics

A prominent part of many vehicle telematics solution is Vehicle Tracking. Typical vehicle tracking systems are comprised of two core parts; tracking hardware (or tracking device) and tracking software. The tracking device is most often hardwire installed in the vehicle; connected to the ignition switch, battery and antennae.


  1. Vehicle tracking
    • It is a way of monitoring the location, movement, status and behavior of a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles. It is achieved through a combination of a global positioning system [GPS] receiver and an electronic device usually comprising of global systems for mobile communication [GSM]/the general packet radio service (GPRS) modem, or SMS sender installed in each vehicle communicating with the user and Personal Computer (PC), or web-based software.
    • In commercial vehicle telematics, vehicle tracking requires the installation of both the GPS receiver and the modem-like device allowing vehicles location. Communication is enabled between the vehicle and a central command that has applied vehicle tracking software programmed to monitor such aspects of travel. And the data is turned into information by management reporting tools in conjunction with a visual display on computerized mapping software.
  2. Trailer tracking
  3. It is the technology of tracking the movements and position of an articulated vehicles trailer unit, through the use of a location unit fitted to the trailer and a method of returning the position data via mobile communication, for the use through PC or web-based software.

  4. Wireless tracking/ mobile data
  5. It is the usage of wireless data communications using radio waves to send and receive real time computer data to, from and between devices used by the field based personnel.

    Wireless units are installed in vehicles and fixed in locations such as near traffic signals and emergency call boxes along the road. Sensors in the cars and at fixed locations as well as possible connections provide the information, which is then displayed to the drivers in some way.

    Wireless passive tracking systems differ from cellular systems in the way that they can be considered on one -off payment. Once the system has been installed and set up it is in place for no further fees.

  6. Satellite navigation
  7. It is the technology of using a global positioning system [GPS] and the electronic mapping tool to enable the driver of a vehicle to locate a position, then route a plan and navigate the journey.

    There are two companies that provide vehicle tracking services in Swaziland namely Radio Security Link Ltd trading as Tracker and Altech Netstar Swaziland [pty] Ltd.


  • It is a company situated in Mbabane.
  • This company is already using the concept of vehicle telematics/tracking.
Brief background of Netstar Swaziland
  • The concept was developed in the United State of America - USA
  • The concept was then introduced in April 1994 as the first vehicle tracking system of its kind in South Africa due to the increase in the incidents of theft and hijackings of motor vehicles including trucks.
  • In 1997 the concept was first used in Swaziland from South African Netstar.
Systems Application Description
  • The company uses a system called Vigil VBU 505 Tracking System.
  • This is a real time management and tracking system that allows its subscribers to monitor the precise location of their vehicles at any given time. Normally, the VBU505 uses GPS to pick up the location of vehicles and if you cannot get the position through the GPS (satellite positioning based on global positioning system) it then uses a GSM network from MTN to get information on location of the vehicles.
  • The Netstar supporting software gives an option of viewing vehicles at different levels. Vehicles can be viewed at street, regional and national level positioning by using the software that is installed by Netstar on the client's computer.
  • The VBU505 system include the following features;
    • It produces trip reports, giving trips taken and kilometers covered
    • It produces engine hours report
    • No go areas can be set up on specific vehicles
    • The unit is small and is designed to avoid detection
    • It is ideal for vehicles and trailers (truck which carries expensive goods which are mostly targeted by hijackers)
    • The unit is rugged designed for external fitments
    • The unit is ideal for basic tracking and recovery
    • It uses GPS positioning for precise positioning
    • It uses GSM communication over the MTN cellular network by way of SMS and GPRS commands and messages.
    • The unit has a motion sensor functionality
    • It has a built in GPS and GSM antennas to pick up network all over Africa.
  • The system can be integrated with an on-board computer to provide driver and vehicle usage information.
  • The system offers three main vigil systems configuration sectors which are :
    1. In- vehicle hardware
    2. Data processing centre
    3. Client front- end centre
  • Pre-defined data, including GPS positioning is collected by the in- vehicle unit, processed and communicated via GSM and the data processing centre from where the client front-end can access the data .
  • They also use a GSM/ SMS watchdog system which uses a monitor that can be implemented to warn the user of excessive SMS usage.
  • The client front-end is based on client marked needs and Netstar has created platforms that allow clients to interactively manage their mobile assets twenty four hours a day. These platforms include:
  • Netstar internet tracking - tracks current and historical vehicle movement can be accessed over the internet.
  • Tracker is the largest vehicle tracking company in the world, it operates via an exclusive satellite and radio network and is regarded as the most successful vehicle tracking device.
  • Radio Security Link Ltd/Tracker Swaziland branch started in 2002, and is also situated in Mbabane.
  • It originates from the United States of America.
  • Tracker provides two recovery systems for stolen vehicles:
    1. They can only track when the car is lost
    2. Check the location of the car.
  • In Swaziland the company only uses a system that tracks cars when they are lost or stolen and the process uses two systems;
    • Retrieve phone-in system - a unit is installed in the car, when the driver dials the tracker service centre they activate the unit of the tracking system in cases where the car is lost or being hijacked.
    • Tracker alert only warning system - it has two units that work in the vehicle.
      • One unit is installed in the vehicle and the other in the car key.
      • The system is disarmed when the driver is in the car but when the car have been stationery for quite some time then suddenly there's a movement in the car, the system senses the movement and the tracking system is automatically armed . This signal is shown at tracker service centre and the driver is notified about the movement especially if the car key was not used to open the driver's door.

Structures of the tracking system;

  • They use highsigths which are stationed at Mbabane mountain and a transmitter connected to a control area network bus.
  • The highsights pick a signal from the vehicle and transfer it to the control room which is the central host and they are able to track that vehicle or send any necessary information.


  • The challenge is finding the right tracking and telematics solution and then using the information it provides to ensure the maximum benefit is returned against investment.
  • The Netstar system does not have a panic button
  • The VBU505 unit is not ideal for fleet management but very good to monitor the activities of the vehicle plus tracking when the vehicle has been stolen or hijacked
  • The VBU505 does not have tamper and battery violations.
  • The Tracker retrieve phone-in unit and the alert only warning system units that is installed in the vehicle and in the key is very expensive to purchase and it requires monthly subscriptions of E357.85 to be paid.
  • Altech Netstar's prices for the stand alone require a unit and installation of fee of E5 300.00 and monthly airtime of E320.00 per month without the software. This makes it difficult for vehicle owners in Swaziland to purchase and manage the system.
  • If the vehicle is parked next to a tall building it is difficult for the high-sights to get a signal from the vehicle and information or data cannot be received or sent until the vehicle is moved.
  • Vehicle telematics relies on general packet radio service [GPRS], and an MTN network therefore a conjestion or breakdown in the MTN network leads to failure in the tracking process.
  • Also the blockage of the signals of the high-sights due to heavy rains and fog at the mountain hinders the tracking process.
  • It is difficult to track a fleet of commercial vehicles which have been stationery for a relatively long duration.
  • Telematics causes a safety issue as it sometimes distracts the drivers from driving to answer e-mails and calls.
  • The trailer tracking process is impossible when the trailer is disconnected from the tractor, because the tracking unit is fitted in the trailer not the tractor. For instance, if the unit is fitted on a trailer, the unit may on a sleeping mode if the trailer does not have permanent power and it can only charge when the trailer has been fitted to the horse.
  • For clients to get the benefits of the 15% discount from Swaziland Royal Insurance Corporation, they have to have more than two cars that will require the installation of the Nestar software and the monthly airtime / subscription of E300.00 and the price of the software to E3700.00.
  • The wireless system can be expensive to set up and install the reason for this expense is the dual components of hardware and software that must be installed as well as the creation of a database.
  • With the wireless tracking system, information can only be retrieved once the vehicle has been returned to the depot; since it cannot provide information at the right time.
  • The wireless tracking system provides no protection if the vehicle is stolen or involved in an accident.


  • http://
  • http://www.telematics
  • Mr Phinda Ndzinisa , Altech Netstar Swaziland [pty] Ltd. P .O .BOX 3376 Mbabane Swaziland Tel no: +268 404 3952 and fax no: +268 404 3968.
  • Nontokozo Dlamini, Radio Security Link Ltd, Trading as Tracker. P. O. Box 32, Mbabane Tel:+268 404 8062

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