What is GPS Tracking?

Do you need to track someone or something? Consider GPS tracking, with a Global Positioning System.



Of course, you could follow the person or thing every hour of the day, or hire someone else it to do it. Unfortunately, those options can be quite tiring and expensive, respectively. And quite frankly, few of us have any time, money, or effort to spare.

GPS tracking is, without a doubt, one of the most effective ways to track a person or object. While you've likely heard of GPS, what exactly is it? GPS includes a network of satellites and receivers to pinpoint the exact location of objects and humans on Earth.

What is GPS?

Satellite pictures

How does GPS work? The essence of the system includes 24 satellites that rotate around the earth twice daily. The satellites are in six different orbits, and are positioned at a precise angle in relation to the equator. Interestingly, while most of the satellites are constantly active, some of them are in standby mode.

Besides being accurate, the GPS system is also reliable and consistent. It's reliable because it's unaffected by weather. And it's consistent because its grid reference system is the same one used throughout the world. A receiver collects information from applicable satellites based on its current location, and then translates that information into a three-dimensional grid that indicates a particular location on Earth. While GPS is the most popular and accurate system of its kind, Russia uses a similar system (GLONASS).

The GPS satellites send information to at least a couple of components on Earth that contain GPS equipment. These components then process the information and then pinpoint the exact location of objects and humans. Amazingly, the number of receivers that can receive transmissions from the GPS satellites is unlimited!

What information does this network of satellites provide? While typically this information always includes the latitude and longitude of the person or object, it also usually includes the altitude. And this data can be a location on or above the Earth's surface. Amazingly, a GPS receiver can locate its own location in one second.

The GPS satellites were launched within two decades (1974 to 1994), and are managed by the USA's Department of Defense. In fact, the system of satellites and receivers was originally created for the United States military. Current satellites are replaced whenever it is necessary.

What are the applications of GPS?

The decrease in GPS receiver operating costs has increased the usage of GPS. From hikers to drivers, and from fishermen to militaries, the GPS system has become increasingly popular for pinpointing the location of people and objects on Earth. For instance, the US military uses GPS to navigate cruise missiles to designated targets. These missiles function by constantly using the satellites to pinpoint its current location.

But while GPS was designed for the U.S. military, several other applications exist. For example, scientists use GPS to monitor the movement of ice sheets at the North Pole or South Pole.

How is GPS used for vehicles?

Today, one of the most popular uses of GPS tracking is for vehicles. In a more pedestrian application, automobile drivers use GPS to calculate the most effective route from Point A to Point B. This replaces big and bulky maps, which can be a pain-in-the-neck.

Besides being used to map out a route, GPS is also used to track stolen vehicles. The GPS components are unseen, which further helps to prevent theft. That's because potential thefts would be uncertain whether a vehicle contains a GPS tracking device. In the case that the vehicle is stolen, the GPS system emits a single that only police departments are able to trace. 

In this Information Age that we live in, some of the most pertinent information can be where a person or an object is located. Thanks to GPS tracking, you can secure that information quickly and accurately!



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