Nov 16 - 22, 2009

Recently, Al-Shaymaa—a UAE-based investment group—has rolled out a vehicle tracking system in Pakistan. The company claims to be different from other contemporary tracking companies because of its utilization of modern technologies to improve mechanism of GPS-enabled vehicle tracking system across the country.

The weaknesses of current vehicle tracking services available in the country made the company to introduce many of the customer’s convenient features in its first line of product, a German-manufactured vehicle-tracking device with US technology.

Director Commercial Waquas Haider says it is not the tracking system ‘we have just launched’ but an integrated surveillance system that keeps in contact with customers through mobile technology to intimate them of misuse of their vehicles such as illegal break-ins, over speeding, and other violations. Waquas is heading sales, customer, marketing, installation, and imports of the company. From this, we can pre-empt prohibited usage of the vehicle of our customer, says he commenting vehicle-tracking system is not active at present and "we want to remove passiveness from the system".

Connected through general packet radio service (GPRS) the company’s system is blanketed mostly by Telenor network that has an extensive coverage nationwide. However, the company has also subscribed to Warid’s network for some locations within the country.

Security is a major concern in Pakistan and tracking devices in vehicles are becoming common feature day by day with the growing population of vehicles and rise of thefts. Obviously, there is a huge potential that has attracted us in Pakistan, he remarked while talking to Page. The company is a subsidiary of Al-Shaymaa FZE that is in shipping business in Emirates.

There are also some gaps we have to fill, he maintained. Substandard tracking devices have aggravated the degree of disappointments in Pakistani vehicle owners. Al-Shaymaa offers car-tracking system that features a range of anti-theft solutions. For example, a mobile message alerts customer if a confidential code is not typed on the keypad fitted in the car within two minutes. Or, if the driver drives the speed limit. Multiple geofence system is another added service that makes customer aware if his car is crossing a predefined location. The market response to the starter is good, as within a month or two the company has made 250 customers of tracking system. Right now, the company is offering services from Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad.

Total fleet management is another important service of the company, ‘which will be distinguishable from others in many ways’, asserted Waquas. The negotiation with prospective companies is in progress and soon we would get contracts of fleet management, he said. Terrain calculator typifies a whole package of utilities the company plans to provide while managing transhipments. Fuel monitoring, temperatures measurement, and more numbers of sensors (outputs) are other characteristics of the fleet management.

A large number of heavy vehicles in Pakistan is an attraction for extensive fleet management system. According to company’s estimate, there are 14,000 oil tankers in the country. Geographic positioning system designs the chart of mileage and this enables actual calculation of fuel consumption on different terrains.

Al-Shaymaa has deployed an extensive infrastructure including internet protocol video technology to get support for its various security and surveillance solutions for vehicles as well as houses and offices. Initially the company has commenced its operation in vehicle tracking business with 160 staff members including reconnaissance team in all three offices. ‘However, we will move into other security and software and development segments.’ The company has spent multi-million rupees on deployment of information and communication technology infrastructure. The investment on inventories is ongoing.

The company conducted a global research to glean information on tracking system a whole year just to make it updated on market intelligence, he highlighted. ‘In this research we talked to 150 vendors around the world, banks, insurance companies, and other stakeholders. What we got was interpreted in 42 points and considered during product designs and specifications.’

The company has pivotal command and control system in Karachi, which is laden with state of the art technologies to provide simplest solutions to the most complex problems and to increase our market share, according to him. Waquas Haider said the control room had an edge over others because of the technologies the company installed in it to ensure good services to customers. The company installed HP G6 server line to improve efficiency and capacity of data storage for instance. The server gives boost to virtualization, automation, and energy efficiency and is the latest upgraded machine. The company has bolstered such 16 servers in the control room and "we are amongst three companies in Pakistan that are using HP G6 servers", claimed Waquas. ‘We have capability to store large data of interactive voice responses (IVR).’ This also decreases rate of redundancy.

Al Shaymaa’s backend infrastructure is supported with efficient communication network operation. This network operation has a mirror image in Germany. Therefore, in case of data lose, "we have a disaster recovery plan to recover data from backup system in Star Telecom Germany", said he.

Realising the huge potential in Pakistan’s market, our management is planning to expand company’s presence in other major cities of Pakistan, he said. The company is planning to enter in Bangladesh and Afghanistan as well. He said that in Pakistan we would add seven new cities by this yearend.

Tracking device is becoming a common feature nowadays to prevent car thefts and misuse of vehicles. Ex-factory installation of such devices requires alteration in the nervous system of the vehicle. If not undertaken by experts such alteration creates hassles for the vehicle owner. According to Director Commercial, the company has taken services of trained staff to provide hi-tech solutions for security and surveillance.