How accurate is the Tractive GPS tracker?

The Tractive GPS mainly utilizes GPS signals to accurately locate your pet.

The average accuracy of GPS positions is around 7.8 meters in perfect conditions. This is the reason why there may be a small discrepancy between the actual position of your pet, and the reported GPS position in the app.

This type of inaccuracy cannot be completely avoided due to the nature of GPS technology. Even so, the Tractive GPS app, including its unique LIVE Tracking and enhance GPS tracker location accuracy features, will still be able to show you the accurate whereabouts of your feline or canine family member, so you can stay connected at all times.

Read on to learn more about the accuracy of GPS, your Tractive GPS tracker, and smartphones.


How accurate is GPS in general?

According to the U.S. GPS Performance Standard, GPS signals provide an accuracy of 7.8 meters (25 ft) at a 95% confidence level when calculating the distance between satellite and receiver.

The GPS tracker receives signals from GPS satellites with a built-in GPS antenna and infers the distance to the satellites from the signal's travel time.

The device can calculate its position when the distances to at least 4 satellites are established. The more GPS satellites it can detect, the greater the accuracy. Likewise, when fewer satellites are in view, the accuracy of the GPS position is decreased.


How to view your tracker's current accuracy at any given point in time

It is possible to view the estimated accuracy of the currently reported GPS position of your pet at any time. Do so by following the steps below:

  1. Open the Tractive GPS mobile or web app.
  2. In the Map view, click on the gear icon in the bottom left-hand corner to open the map settings.
  3. You can now enable the option Show Location Accuracy (mobile) or Device accuracy (web app).
  4. Return to the map view.

Once enabled, the accuracy of the reported position will be displayed on the map via a circle around the reported location.

The estimated accuracy of the reported GPS position (e.g. 4 meters) determines the radius and thus size of the circle displayed. This can be especially helpful when searching for your pet (hint: search the entire area of the circle).


What can decrease the accuracy of the Tractive GPS?

When GPS signals are blocked by environmental factors, it can be more difficult to determine an accurate position. When this happens, the Tractive GPS tries to determine its location based on the availability of cell towers.

In this case, the tracker can only give a rough estimate of its position (50 meters accuracy maximum).  

GPS signals can also be obstructed by factors such as weather, forest, building structures, and air particles. 


Accuracy of Smartphones and Navigation Systems vs. GPS Trackers

Modern smartphones use a combination of GPS, cell networks, Bluetooth, as well as large databases of WLAN networks to determine location. To get these databases, Google and Apple collect large quantities of user data. Tractive GPS doesn't collect any such user data and only makes use of GPS and cell network signals to locate your pet.

Automotive navigation systems are optimized for street navigation. Imprecise positions away from roads are corrected automatically to match up with the street map. This leads to more accurate route recordings. Since pets frequently travel away from roads, a similar route optimization isn't possible for pet trackers.

Smartphones and navigation systems show the GPS positions directly on the built-in display. Pet trackers need to transmit the GPS data to the smartphone of the pet owner before it can be displayed. Because this requires a lot of energy, it can only be done at certain time intervals.

Individual position updates are then connected by straight lines in the location history, which can result in routes that don't quite match up with the actual path taken. To get more accurate GPS recordings, you can activate LIVE Tracking at any time.

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