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GPS tracking refers to locating an object or a person by employing the global positioning system in real-time. Satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS) involve orbiting GPS satellites that send their signals for receipt in GPS instruments on the ground. They use different satellites that send alerts with the help of these devices. The device calculates its position within a short time with the help of the time taken by these signals.
The market offers numerous GPS tracking devices ranging from portable small units that can be put on personal property to the big ones used in monitoring cars or any asset. GPS tracking remains used for a variety of purposes, including:
Asset tracking: It is possible to trace these movable properties using GPS, for example, cars, equipment, or inventory. Aside from that, it aids in reducing theft and asset utilization.
Personal tracking: It therefore entails that GPS tracking can remain to trace where people who are, for instance, kids, aged adults or workers move. It is vital in enhancing their security issues.
Vehicle tracking: The most prevalent way location is detected is through GPS tracking cars, trucks, buses, etc. It can be helpful in the optimization of fleet management, determining optimal routes, and minimizing fuel wastage.
Sports and fitness: Athletes and those interested in fitness usually rely on GPS tracking to determine distance covered, speed, and routes. It can, therefore, enable such students to understand where they stand and how they perform to help them improve.
Wildlife tracking: Scientists and those conducting research use GPS tracking to monitor the wild animal’s movements. Such activities may assist them in understanding animal behaviors as well as migration trends.
What is GPS tracking technology?
GPS tracking technology is a technology that uses satellite signals to regulate the exact location of a device or vehicle in real time. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and was initially developed by the United States Department of Defense for military use. Today, GPS tracking is used in various applications, containing fleet management, asset tracking, and personal tracking.
Why is assisted GPS necessary?
A-GPS is beneficial when there’s no direct line of sight between your device and the satellites 12,500 miles away. Anything from trees to walls can get in the way of satellite signals, making them less accurate. Wi-Fi and cell signals fill in the gaps.
But relying on Wi-Fi or cellular signals alone also has some disadvantages, especially regarding infrastructure. Many parts of the US still lack cell towers, and Wi-Fi positioning’s useless if no Wi-Fi networks are nearby.
What is the technology behind GPS tracking?
GPS trackers link to a series of satellites to determine location. The tracker uses trilateration, which uses the position of three or more Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network satellites and your distance from them to determine latitude, longitude, elevation, and time.
Types of GPS Trackers and their Benefits
One of the best things about GPS trackers is that they encourage independence in people who might feel vulnerable without a safety net. They also help us find lost items and check on loved ones without lurking around.
Here are some of the main types of GPS trackers and how they are commonly used:
- GPS trackers help parents confirm that their children are where they are supposed to be, whether at school, at home, or at a friend’s house. The best ones learn your child’s routine and notify you if there is a sudden change from the norm.
- GPS pet trackers monitor the location of your dog or cat, whether they’re roaming free or in the habit of running away. The best ones include lights to see your pet in the dark.
- GPS-enabled medical alerts share the user’s location with a professional monitoring center when they indicate they need help. Some also allow caregivers to see the user’s location in an app.
- GPS trackers for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia include geofencing, so you’ll be alerted if your loved one walks out the door.
- Vehicle trackers can help you get your car back if it is stolen. The best ones plug into the car’s OBD port and have additional features like speed alerts, crash detection, and more.
- Personal safety apps share your location with friends or 911 dispatchers at the touch of a button. The best ones also discreetly record what’s going on around you.
How GPS trackers work
You’re probably familiar with using GPS to navigate a strange area, like when Siri tells you how to get to your hotel. But GPS trackers are becoming more common to monitor family members, pets, vehicles, and belongings.
These trackers send signals to a smartphone app or web-based dashboard at specific times. When you receive those location alerts depends on the device:
- Default intervals (every minute, every hour, etc.)
- When requested through the smartphone application
- When sent by the user
- When crossing a geofence
The tracker’s current location (and, if supported by the device, location history) is displayed on a map within the smartphone app.
GPS Tracking Technology equivalents around the world
Initially developed for military purposes during the Cold War, GPS refers only to 31 US-operated satellites. A few other countries or entities have their GPS versions, collectively called Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).
Russia, China, India, Japan, and the European Union are the only other countries/entities with their own GNSS, no doubt, because sending satellites into space costs a lot of money. Each country has its acronym or nickname for its satellite constellation:
- China: BeiDou (35 satellites, global coverage)
- EU: Galileo (30 satellites, global coverage)
- India: NavIC (8 satellites, regional coverage)
- Japan: QZSS (4 satellites, regional coverage)
- Russia: GLONASS (24 satellites, global coverage)
You don’t have to be in the US to use GPS-enabled devices: GPS offers worldwide coverage, just like GLONASS, BeiDou, and Galileo. But that doesn’t mean that all GPS-enabled devices will work abroad. If the device uses “assisted GPS” technology, it also uses a SIM card to connect to cellular networks, which are not global.
Therefore, GPS tracking is location surveillance by using the Global Positioning System to track the site of an object remotely. The technology can pinpoint the target’s longitude, latitude, forward speed, and course direction.
GPS is a “collection” of 24 well-spaced satellites that range the Earth, making it possible for people with terrestrial receivers to pinpoint their geographic location. Location accuracy is 100 to 10 meters for most equipment. Accuracy can be determined to be within one meter with special military-approved equipment.