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Remote tracking system based on Java 2 Micro Edition platform, GPS, digital terrain maps and Internet transmission protocols

Author: Paweł Wierzbicki MSc

Supervisor: Associate Professor Paweł Strumiłło Msc PhD DSc

The thesis won the competition for the best MSc thesis in the academic year 2008/2009 organized by the Polish Association of Electric Engineers (SEP) and the Faculty of Electrical, Electronic, Computer and Control Engineering of the Technical University of Lodz.

The aim of this master thesis is to demonstrate that a low cost, yet powerful and feature rich, mobile device tracking system can be created using various free and open-source technologies. The system will use a GPS enabled mobile device to collect location information and submit them over an IP mobile network to a server. The server will store that information in a database. Another part of the system – the web front-end will allow
overlaying the gathered information on digital terrain maps.

Relevance of such system can be easily recognised in numerous areas - from commercial
fleet management systems to people or private vehicle supervision as well as enhancing travel experience. Similar systems exist already but are mostly run by big corporations which use proprietary software, hardware and protocols making them unaffordable for most people. Ability to build an inexpensive system using free and widespread technologies that would offer similar capabilities would be a huge step in bringing, those
very useful systems, to every home and office.

The system can be divided into three segments – the mobile application, the server backend and web front-end. The mobile application is written in Java programming language that uses Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) platform and can be run on most modern mobile devices. The server runs Linux operating system which hosts MySQL database server and Apache web server. The web front-end is built with PHP scripting language with aid of JavaScript. It uses Google Maps as digital maps provider. The mobile application communicates with the server through a SOAP webservice, the front-end is interpreted by the web server from the PHP scripts and sent to any web browser using HTTP protocol.

I was able to achieve full desired functionality of the system. All segments worked together perfectly. The mobile application was installed on a Blackberry Curve 8310 mobile smartphone. It collected location information from its built in GPS receiver and sent them to the server. The front-end was able to successfully track the device and display its location and path in real time on digital Google maps.

The system also includes several additional features – tracking several devices simultaneously, access to each mobile device movements’ history, defining and submitting events from the mobile device, reverse geocoding (converting numerical location to an address), data transfer and energy saving algorithms in the mobile application.