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Title:
LONE WORKER SYSTEM, AND METHOD OF OPERATING ASSOCIATED THERETO
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/037092
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A lone worker system for communicating with and monitoring a lone worker associated to a given remote asset. The system includes a monitoring station provided with a corresponding server. The system also includes an asset tracking unit integrated within the given remote asset and being capable of long range wireless communication with the monitoring station via at least one network for tracking the given remote asset. The system also includes a base station associated to the given remote asset and being capable of communication with the asset tracking unit. The system also includes a portable device for use by the lone worker and being capable of communication with the monitoring station via the base station and corresponding asset tracking unit. The portable device interacts selectively and periodically with the lone worker for determining conditions of the lone worker, corresponding data associated to these conditions being evaluated by at least one component of the lone worker system. The data is transmitted to the monitoring station, via a given network providing the long range communication, depending on parameters established by the at least one component of the lone worker system.

Inventors:
WEICKER PHILLIP J (CA)
SMITH MATTHEW K (CA)
MASSICOTTE MATTHEW (CA)
KRAMER METS S (NL)
Application Number:
CA2007/001755
Publication Date:
April 03, 2008
Filing Date:
October 01, 2007
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
IMAGINATION MP2 INC (CA)
WEICKER PHILLIP J (CA)
SMITH MATTHEW K (CA)
MASSICOTTE MATTHEW (CA)
KRAMER METS S (NL)
International Classes:
G06Q10/00; H04L12/28; H04Q7/20; H04Q9/00
Foreign References:
US20040246128A12004-12-09
US7091852B22006-08-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROBIC (1001 Square-VictoriaBloc E - 8th Floo, Montreal Quebec H2Z 2B7, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:

CLAIMS:

1. A lone worker system for communicating with and monitoring a lone worker associated to a given remote asset, the system comprising: a monitoring station provided with a corresponding server; an asset tracking unit integrated within the given remote asset and being capable of long range wireless communication with the monitoring station via at least one network for tracking the given remote asset; a base station associated to the given remote asset and being capable of communication with the asset tracking unit; and a portable device for use by the lone worker and being capable of communication with the monitoring station via the base station and corresponding asset tracking unit; wherein the portable device interacts selectively and periodically with the lone worker for determining conditions of said lone worker, corresponding data associated to said conditions being evaluated by at least one component of the lone worker system, and wherein said data is transmitted to the monitoring station, via said at least one network providing the long range communication, depending on parameters established by said at least one component of the lone worker system.

2. A lone worker system according to claim 1 , wherein the portable device comprises at least one sensor for detecting conditions of the lone worker.

3. A lone worker system according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the portable device comprises at least one accessory selected from the group consisting of key-fob, watch, belt-clip, pendant, box, keyboard and keypad.

4. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-3, wherein the portable device comprises at least one power supply, and at least one device for storing information.

5. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-4, wherein the portable device comprises input means for allowing a user to input information into the lone worker system via the portable device.

6. A lone worker system according to claim 5, wherein the input means of the portable device comprise at least one component selected from the group consisting of button, switch, microphone, sensor of vital signs, camera, keyboard, keypad, mouse, sensor and touchtone screen.

7. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-6, wherein the portable device comprises output means for providing a user with output information coming from the portable device.

8. A lone worker system according to claim 7, wherein the output means of the portable device comprise at least one component selected from the group consisting of LED, light, buzzer, speaker, video screen, display screen, vibrating motor, actuator, analog signal, electric signal and horn.

9. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-8, wherein the base station comprises at least one sensor for detecting conditions of the given remote asset via the asset tracking unit.

10. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-9, wherein the base station comprises signal connectors to interface with the asset tracking unit.

11. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-10, wherein the base station comprises at least one power supply, and at least one device for storing information.

12. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-11 , wherein the base station comprises input means for allowing a user to input information

into the lone worker system via the base station.

13. A lone worker system according to claim 12, wherein the input means of the base station comprise at least one component selected from the group consisting of button, switch, microphone, sensor of vital signs, camera, and touchtone screen.

14. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-13, wherein the base station comprises output means for providing a user with output information coming from the base station.

15. A lone worker system according to claim 14, wherein the output means of the base station comprise at least one component selected from the group consisting of LED, light, buzzer, speaker, video screen, display screen, vibrating motor, actuator and horn.

16. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-15, wherein the given remote asset is a service vehicle, and wherein the asset tracking unit is installed in said service vehicle.

17. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-15, wherein the given remote asset is a person, and wherein the asset tracking unit and the base station are integrated into a single component.

18. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-15, wherein the given remote asset is a person, and wherein the asset tracking unit, the base station and the portable device are integrated into a single component.

19. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-18, wherein communications between components of the lone worker system are at least unidirectional.

20. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-19, wherein communications between components of the lone worker system are bidirectional, and wherein data is capable of being transmitted between components of the lone worker system via at least one manner.

21. A lone worker system according to claim 20, wherein said at least one manner is selected from the group consisting of digital electrical signals, analog electrical signals, optical signals, serial bus, parallel bus, network and wireless network.

22. A lone worker system according to any one of claims 1-21 , wherein the long range communication is carried out with a technology selected from the group consisting of satellite technology, mobile phone technology and global positioning system (GPS) technology.

23. A lone worker system any one of claims 1-22, wherein said at least one network comprises a plurality of different networks, and wherein said at least one component comprises an information packet router, such that said data is transmitted to the monitoring station, via a given one of the different networks providing the long range communication, as selected by the information packet router, depending on parameters established by said at least one component of the lone worker system.

24. A lone worker system any one of claims 1-23, wherein the remote monitoring station comprises a database for storing the status, message history and any other relevant information associated to the given remote asset.

25. A lone worker system any one of claims 1-24, wherein the remote monitoring station comprises a database for storing the status, message history and any other relevant information associated to the lone worker.

26. A method for communicating with and monitoring a lone worker

associated to a given remote asset, the method comprising the steps of: a) providing a monitoring station provided with a corresponding server; b) providing an asset tracking unit integrated within the given remote asset and being capable of long range wireless communication with the monitoring station via at least one network for tracking the given remote asset; c) providing a base station associated to the given remote asset and being capable of communication with the asset tracking unit; and d) providing a portable device for use by the lone worker and being capable of communication with the monitoring station via the base station and corresponding asset tracking unit; e) using the portable device for interacting selectively and periodically with the lone worker for determining conditions of said lone worker, so that corresponding data associated to said conditions be evaluated by at least one component of the lone worker system, and so that said data be transmitted to the monitoring station, via said at least one network providing the long range communication, depending on parameters established by said at least one component of the lone worker system.

27. A method according to claim 26, wherein step e) comprises the step of prompting the lone worker for a response into the portable device via input means thereof.

28. A method according to claim 27, wherein a command for prompting the lone worker originates from either one of the portable device, base station or monitoring station.

Description:

LONE WORKER SYSTEM, AND METHOD OF OPERATING ASSOCIATED

THERETO

Field of the invention:

The present invention relates to a lone worker system, and to a method of operating associated thereto.

Background of the invention:

Mobile phones and the use thereof are well known in the art, as well as the different drawbacks and inconveniences associated thereto, namely, but not limitedly, the fact that they are often confined to specific and predetermined service areas within the globe where they are intended to operate exclusively, and the fact that they are generally not designed to communicate information regarding the status of the users employing such phones, which can be very disadvantageous in certain applications. Furthermore, using mobile phones to report the status of workers is time consuming and distracting to the work they need to perform in many cases.

Known to the Applicant are the following US patents and patent applications which describe various lone worker systems and similar applications: 3,290,597; 4,606,073; 4,910,493; 5,767,788; 6,072,396; 6,356,841 B1 ; 6,956,467 B1 ; 2005/0030942 A1 ; 2005/0151655 A1 ; 2005/0151669 A1 ; 2005/0246097 A1 ; 2006/0106537 A1 ; and 2006/0253252 A1.

The tracking of and/or communication with remote assets such as persons, vehicles, machines or other devices via transmission of information to and from a remote device using a wired and/or wireless local area network (LAN) and/or the Internet (and/or a similar network) is also well known in the art, as well as the different drawbacks and inconveniences associated thereto, namely, but not limitedly, the fact that the coverage offered by these LANs is also often confined

to specific and predetermined service areas within the globe, and the fact that remote devices configured to operate using these networks are not able to switch to a different type of network in the event that such a network becomes unavailable and/or should doing so be beneficial for some reason such as, but not limited to, reduced costs and/or improved signal strength.

Likewise, the tracking of and/or communication with remote assets such as persons, vehicles, machines or other devices via transmission of information to and from a remote device using a mobile phone network is well known in the art, as well as the different drawbacks and inconveniences associated thereto, namely, but not limitedly, the fact that the coverage offered by these networks is also often confined to specific and predetermined service areas within the globe where they are intended to operate exclusively, and the fact that remote devices configured to operate using these mobile phone networks are not able to switch to a different type of network in the event that such a network becomes unavailable and/or should doing so be beneficial for some reason such as, but not limited to, reduced cost and/or improved signal strength.

Likewise, the tracking of and/or communication with remote assets such as persons, vehicles, machines or other devices via transmission of information to and from a remote device using a satellite network is well known in the art, as well as the different drawbacks and inconveniences associated thereto, namely, but not limitedly, the fact that such data transmission may be extremely costly, the fact that satellite communication systems require line-of-sight visibility to the satellite (i.e. they generally do not work with devices located indoors or underground), and the fact that remote devices configured to operate using these satellite networks are not able to switch to a different type of network in the event that such a network becomes unavailable and/or should doing so be beneficial for some reason such as, but not limited to, reduced costs and/or improved signal strength.

Hence, in light of the aforementioned, there is a need for an improved device or system, which by virtue of its design and components, would be able to overcome some of the above-discussed prior art problems.

Summary of the invention:

The object of this present invention is to provide a system which, by virtue of its design and components, satisfies some of the above-mentioned needs and is thus an improvement over other related devices, systems and/or methods known in the prior art.

In accordance with the present invention, the above object is achieved, as will be easily understood, with a lone worker system, hereinafter referred to also as a "remote asset tracking and/or communication system", such as the one briefly described herein and such as the one exemplified in the accompanying drawings.

More particularly, according to the present invention, there is provided a lone worker system for communicating with and monitoring a lone worker associated to a given remote asset, the system comprising: a monitoring station provided with a corresponding server; an asset tracking unit integrated within the given remote asset and being capable of long range wireless communication with the monitoring station via at least one network for tracking the given remote asset; a base station associated to the given remote asset and being capable of communication with the asset tracking unit; and a portable device for use by the lone worker and being capable of communication with the monitoring station via the base station and corresponding asset tracking unit; wherein the portable device interacts selectively and periodically with the lone worker for determining conditions of said lone worker, corresponding data associated to said conditions being evaluated by at least one component of the

lone worker system, and wherein said data is transmitted to the monitoring station, via said at least one network providing the long range communication, depending on parameters established by said at least one component of the lone worker system.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a method of operating the above-mentioned system.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a kit for assembling the above-mentioned system.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a method for assembling components of the above-mentioned kit.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided data transmitted with the above-mentioned system and/or method.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a method of doing business with the above mentioned system and/or method.

The objects, advantages and other features of the present invention will become more apparent upon reading of the following non-restrictive description of preferred embodiments thereof, given for the purpose of exemplification only, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Brief description of the drawings:

Figure 1 is a schematic representation of a lone worker system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 2 is a schematic representation of a multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 3 is a schematic representation of a multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention:

In the following description, the same numerical references refer to similar elements. The embodiments shown in the figures are preferred, and are given for exemplification purposes only.

Although the present invention was primarily designed for a lone worker, as well as for the tracking of and/or communication with remote assets, it may be used for other kinds of people and/or devices and/or applications, as apparent to a person skilled in the art. For this reason, the expressions "lone", "worker", "remote", "tracking", "communication", "asset", etc. should not be taken as to limit the scope of the present invention and includes all other kinds of personnel or items with which the present invention may be used and could be useful.

Moreover, in the context of the present description, the expressions "system", "device", "assembly" and "apparatus", as well as any other equivalent expressions and/or compound words thereof, may be used interchangeably. The same applies for any other mutually equivalent expressions, such as "signal", "data", "message" and "information" for example, as well as "communicating", "monitoring" and "tracking", as well as "means" and "device(s)", as apparent to a person skilled in the art.

In addition, although the preferred embodiment of the present invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings comprises various components and

although the preferred embodiment of the present system and corresponding parts of the present invention as shown consists of certain configurations as explained and illustrated herein, not all of these components and interrelations are essential to the invention and thus should not be taken in their restrictive sense, i.e. should not be taken as to limit the scope of the present invention. It is to be understood, as also apparent to a person skilled in the art, that other suitable components and cooperations thereinbetween, as well as other suitable configurations may be used for the system according the present invention, as will be briefly explained herein and as can be easily inferred herefrom, without departing from the scope of the invention.

Broadly described, the lone worker system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, as exemplified in the accompanying drawings, and particularly in Figure 1 , is a system for allowing a lone worker to communicate with a remote monitoring station through the use of an asset- tracking system or other long-range communication device installed in his service vehicle, for example. This can advantageously provide a safety-check feature that works in areas that are not serviced by mobile phones (or may not be efficiently served by mobile phones, that is, either no signal, or cost prohibitive, for example), but could be used in addition to or instead of mobile phones. Namely, it will allow the worker to exit the vehicle and move a reasonable distance away from the vehicle to perform his work unhindered.

It is worth mentioning however, as apparent to a person skilled in the art in view of the present description and the accompanying drawings, that while selectively maintaining a communication link with the remote monitoring station, this link will preferably allow a two-way transmission of data in order that personnel at the remote monitoring station may be ensured that the worker is

"safe" and/or in order to verify any other suitable criteria regarding the worker, whether personally or concerning his working environment. For example, the remote monitoring station may send a periodic prompt for the worker to respond

so as to ensure that said worker is "ok", and the worker may respond accordingly, depending on whether the worker is "ok" or not.

Briefly described hereinbelow are different components and functions of a lone worker system according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art when referring to the accompanying drawings.

Indeed, when referring to Figure 1 for example, there is shown that the lone worker system preferably comprises a hand-held remote device, whether in the form of a key-fob, watch, belt-clip, pendant or similar device carried on the person of the lone worker. This portable device preferably comprises: a) a battery or other similar energy source or storage device; b) a wireless transceiver for transferring data to and from the base station; c) input means for allowing user to input information, which may consist of one or more of: buttons/switches, a microphone, a vital-signs sensor (heart rate, etc.), a camera, or any other suitable input device; d) output means for providing output or feedback to the user, which may consist of one or more of: LEDs or lights, buzzers, speakers, video screens, display screens (i.e. LED or LCD), a vibrating motor, actuator or other similar feedback or output device; and e) optionally, sensors that detect unsafe conditions (carbon monoxide, shock, temperature, lack of movement, etc.) regarding the worker and/or his environment.

As also shown in the figures, and as can be easily understood therefrom by a person skilled in the art, the lone worker system according to the present invention preferably comprises a base station, which according to a particular aspect of the invention, is a module preferably installed in the service vehicle to receive and send signals to the handheld device A, as well as the mobile communication's device, hereinafter referred to also as "asset tracker". The base station preferably comprises: a) a wireless transceiver to interface with component A2; b) power connectors to interface with the vehicle's electrical system, or any other suitable power supply which could be land-based or mobile,

such as from a vehicle which is a preferred embodiment of a given remote asset according to the present invention; c) signal connectors to interface with the asset tracker; d) optionally, input means as in component A3 to allow user input directly to the base station; e) optionally, output or feedback means as in component A4 to provide feedback directly from the base station; f) optionally, a battery or other suitable energy source or storage device (this battery will enable namely to provide backup power in the event the service vehicle's electrical system fails to do so - it may also power the asset tracker as well); and g) means to communicate with the asset tracker, this communication may be unidirectional or preferably bi-directional, and takes place via one or more of: i) digital electrical signals; ii) analog electrical signals; iii) optical signals; iv) a serial bus, parallel bus, network, etc.; v) a wireless network (802.11 , ZigBee™, Bluetooth™, etc.); and vi) any other suitable means which the asset tracker may have to communicate with other devices of the system or outside thereof.

Alternatively, the asset tracker may be eliminated and the hand-held device may communicate directly with the satellite, as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

Alternatively also, the asset tracker may provide no asset tracking/surveillance functions and operate only in the capacity of the here- described safety system, as can also be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

As also shown in the figures, and as can be easily understood therefrom by a person skilled in the art, the lone worker system according to the present invention preferably comprises an asset tracking unit which is preferably installed in the service vehicle and functions using some long range communication system (satellite, mobile phone, etc.), usually used to provide GPS tracking, vehicle performance data and other information. The asset tracker and base station may be separate modules or they may be integrated into a single unit, as can also be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

As also shown, the lone worker system preferably comprises a remote monitoring station and server. This component preferably receives the communication from the asset tracker (or safety system in the case where the system provides no asset tracking, or directly with the remote device when no base station is used). It is able to send and receive messages to and from multiple asset trackers/safety systems/remote devices and multiple monitoring stations. The monitoring stations may be integrated or separate from this component. It may comprise a database for storing the status, message history and any other relevant information from the monitored systems. It may also comprise a user interface software to allow users to interact with the system, send commands to monitored units, view the check-in status, etc., as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the lone worker system preferably functions in the following manner. Firstly, it allows entry into a "check-in" mode, where users will need to confirm their health or other parameters by interacting with the remote device at predetermined intervals, or at the request of a remote operator, or in the event that some potentially dangerous situation is detected. The command to enter this mode may come from a local command issued to the base station, a remote command issued by a remote monitoring operator, or a command from the handheld device, or some other internal means for scheduling and programming of tasks. At the expiry of the check-in interval, the user is notified that it is necessary to check in using the mobile device. When the confirmation is made, a message is transmitted from the remote device to the base station. Another message is then sent from the base station to the remote monitoring station. An acknowledgement (which may be generated automatically or manually) is then sent to the base station by the remote server. This acknowledgement triggers another acknowledgement sent to the remote device, indicating to the remote worker that his or her message has been received. The confirmation may be manual (e.g. press a button, respond to

a voice prompt, etc.) or automatic (detect vital signs or movement, and the like), as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

At any time, the user may press a "panic" button to initiate a panic or alarm state. He or she will use the same messaging mechanism described above to send a panic message to the remote station. Also, an alarm device such as a siren, horn, light or other suitable device can be activated at the service vehicle to draw attention from rescuers. Panic mode may be also initiated by a user's failure to check-in after a given period of time, or by a remote instruction. Panic mode may be limited to given periods of the day/week, or permitted only when the system is in "check-in" mode, as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

The system may also allow for other types of messages between the remote server and base stations as well as between a given base station and the handheld device, such as: a) battery status of remote; b) battery status of base station; c) indication that the two devices are out of range (remote could be notified when asset tracker does not have communication with remote server; remote could be notified when it is out of range of the base station; and remote server could be notified when the base and handheld devices are out of range of each other); d) pulse or other vital signs of the lone worker; e) encoded audio or video data; and f) other notifications useful to the lone worker or remote monitoring operator.

The handheld device may display information to the remote worker about the system status, such as: a) battery status of remote and base station; b) asset tracker connectivity; c) in-range status (with respect to base station); and d) "active mode" display if it can be used in several ways.

As may now be better appreciated, the lone worker system according to the present invention is particularly advantageous, namely over the use of mobile phones and the like for particular applications, as can be easily understood by a

person skilled in the art in view of the aforementioned description and accompanying drawings.

As may now be also better appreciated, the present invention can be applied to "broader" applications. Indeed, according to another preferred aspect of the present invention, the system can be used as a multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system, as better exemplified in Figures 2 and 3, where the system is used for optimizing network coverage and the costs and reliability associated with transmitting information to and from a remote location and for providing asset tracking or monitoring at that location, specifically for optimizing network coverage and the costs and reliability associated with transmitting data to and from a remote asset tracking and communication system. The system is capable of interfacing with a plurality of local networks as well as a plurality of long-range networks (satellite, cellular, wireless Internet, etc.) and contains a mechanism for routing the information packets over the most appropriate network based on dynamically configurable criteria (which may change from message to message based on factors such as message size, criticality, etc., or factors such as availability or signal quality of the networks in question, user inputs, etc) in one or both directions. The system allows for maximal coverage (in contrast to conventional known systems where satellite networks require visibility of satellite, whilst mobile phones are unavailable in remote areas and wireless Internet is often only available in urban centers) at optimized cost and reliability (since these factors may vary dynamically depending on the environment in which the system is used). The functionality of the system (i.e. asset tracking, monitoring, etc.) is independent of what medium is used for transmission of data, which may change from message to message.

Briefly described hereinbelow are different components and functions of a multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art when referring to the accompanying drawings.

Indeed, when referring to Figures 2 and 3 for example, there is shown that the multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system preferably comprises a one or more remote asset tracking and/or communication device, whether in the form of a key-fob, watch, belt-clip, pendant, box, hand- held, keyboard, keypad or other similar device carried on a person or attached to some fixed or moveable object This portable device preferably comprises: a) input means for information to be gathered from either the asset (e.g. worker or other item) or the environment surrounding the asset or both, and may consist of one or more of: buttons/switches, a microphone, a vital-signs sensor (heart rate, etc.), a camera, a keyboard, a keypad, a mouse, a light sensor, a biometric sensor, a microphone, a carbon monoxide sensor, a shock sensor, a temperature sensor, an electrical circuit or other input means; b) output means for providing information to the asset, and may consist of one or more of: LEDs or lights, buzzers, speakers, video screens, display screens (i.e. LED or LCD), a vibrating motor, actuator, analog and/or electrical signal or other similar output means; c) one or more processors and/or other means for processing information; d) one or more means of storing information to be input and/or output; e) one or more batteries and/or other similar energy sources and/or storage devices; f) one or more means for connecting to one or more networks (antenna, cable, optical transmitter/receiver/transceiver, modem, etc.); g) one or more means for sending and/or receiving information to and/or from one or more networks; and h) one or more GPS receivers.

As also shown, the multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system preferably comprises one or more information packet routers. Each information packet router preferably comprises: a) one or more batteries and/or other similar energy sources and/or storage devices; b) one or more means for connecting to one or more networks (antenna, cable, optical transmitter/receiver/transceiver, modem, etc.); c) one or more means for sending and/or receiving information to and/or from one or more networks; d) one or more processors and/or other means for processing information; e) one or more means of storing information to be input and/or output; f) one or more means for

monitoring the performance of one or more networks for connectivity, signal strength, accessibility, delays, traffic, etc.; g) one or more means for querying other components of the present invention for information regarding network performance; h) one or more means for generating information based on network performance; i) one or more means for choosing network(s) on which to send and/or receive information based on some dynamically configurable criteria and/or user input; j) one or more means for switching between networks for incoming and outgoing information; k) one or more means for controlling information transmission protocols (retries, repeats, queuing, message separation and assembly, etc.); and I) optionally, one ore more GPS receivers.

Alternatively, as exemplified in Figure 3, one or more information packet routers (B) may be incorporated directly into a remote tracking and/or communications device (A), as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

As also shown, the multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system preferably comprises one or more wired and/or wireless networks to transmit data to and/or from and/or amongst components of the present invention (802.11 , ZigBee™, Bluetooth™, satellite, mobile phone, RF, leaky feeder, LAN, etc.), as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

As also shown, the multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system preferably comprises one or more information packet processing centers, each preferably comprising: a) one or more batteries and/or other similar energy sources and/or storage devices; b) one or more means for connecting to one or more networks (antenna, cable, optical transmitter/receiver/transceiver, modem, etc.); c) one or more means for sending and/or receiving information to and/or from one or more networks; d) one or more processors and/or other means for processing information; e) one or more means of storing information to be input and/or output; f) one or more means for

monitoring the performance of one or more networks for connectivity, signal strength, accessibility, delays, traffic, etc.; g) one or more means for querying other components of the present invention for information regarding network performance; h) one or more means for generating information based on network performance; i) one or more means for choosing network(s) on which to send and/or receive information based on some dynamically configurable criteria and/or user input; j) one or more means for switching between networks for incoming and outgoing information; k) one or more means for controlling information transmission protocols (retries, repeats, queuing, message separation and assembly, etc.); and I) optionally, one or more GPS receivers.

As also shown, the multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system preferably comprises one or more information packet servers, each preferably comprising: a) one or more batteries and/or other similar energy sources and/or storage devices; b) one or more means for connecting to one or more networks (antenna, cable, optical transmitter/receiver/transceiver, modem, etc.); c) one or more means for sending and/or receiving information to and/or from one or more networks; d) one or more processors and/or other means for processing information; e) means of storing information; and f) optionally, means of managing information.

As also shown, the multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system preferably comprises one or more remote access applications whereby users may access and query and/or input and/or delete and/or edit information stored on one or more packet servers via one or more networks, as can be easily understood by a person skilled in the art.

As may now be also better appreciated, the multiple network remote asset tracking and/or communication system according to the present invention is particularly advantageous, namely, it enables to: a) allow the input and output of information at one or more components of the system; b) allow components of the system to monitor performance and/or query other components of the system

regarding the performance of one or more networks; c) allow one or more components of the system to generate information based on performance of one or more networks used by the system; d) allow information regarding performance of one or more networks used by the system to be stored in and/or transmitted amongst components of the system via one or more networks; e) allow optimization of network selection for sending and/or receiving of information between components of the system based on some dynamically configurable criteria (message size, message criticality, cost of sending over network(s) in question, network availability, network traffic, network delays, network accessibility, etc.) and/or user and/or environmental input; and f) allow said optimization of network selection for sending and/or receiving of information between components of the system to be performed in an automated and/or transparent way when viewed by users of the system.

Of course, numerous modifications could be made to the above-described embodiments without departing from the scope of the present invention, as defined in the appended claims.