A new system has been launched in the United States, which uses GPS technology to locate missing backup tapes.

Fujifilm Recording Media teamed up with SC-Integrity (SCI) to introduce the Fujifilm Tape Tracker, which can be placed in a standard cartridge so it looks like any other half-inch digital tape, and transported along with a set of tapes.

The Fujifilm Tape Tracker works in a very similar to the GPS system that is used to locate stolen cars, whereby a GPS unit is hidden somewhere on the vehicle, and is activated when the car is stolen.

The Tape Tracker cartridge features highly sensitive assisted GPS, which fits in a standard tape cartridge. The data manager simply charges the Tape Tracker cartridge and slips it into any tape carrying case.

The Tape Tracker cartridge will then report its location over the cellular network, and a single charge can last up to 30 days. This allows the data manager to track down the location of the backups when the tapes are either in transit or stored at various off-site locations, such as disaster recovery centres, vaults, other offices etc.

Back in November last year, the HM Revenue and Customs lost 25 million personal records, in the UK's biggest ever data protection breach, after discs went missing during transit to the National Audit Office.

The Tape Tracker is based on LoJack InTransit, a system SCI developed with LoJack that combines car-tracking technology with its own in-transit cargo service.

InTransit gives a birds-eye view of all Tape Trackers deployed on a geo-map with satellite imagery. The application includes "geo-fencing features", which allows the creation of security perimeters around buildings, locations and routes. Alerts are triggered when the tapes enter or leave an area, or there is a discrepancy in a shipping route.

Fujifind keeps a complete backup, and provides user-definable activity and history reports that can be used as evidence and included in comprehensive chain-of-custody logs, which is useful when there are legal considerations.

A Tape Tracker service and support centre is available 24/7 by phone and email.

The service is available now through Fujifilm resellers in the US for $150 (£74) per month. A UK spokeswoman told Techworld there was no immediate news as to whether the product would be offered in Europe.

Based on original reporting by Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service.