A GPS tracking system is a device that makes use of the Global Positioning System to follow and locate a person or an object's exact spot. A GPS tracking unit is attached to the person, or his vehicle or any other item that is being monitored. The tracking unit transmits data to a computer via satellite, radio or GPRS. This is done in real time, and is also recorded so it can be reviewed later on, and the location of a person or object is shown as a dot on a map.
GPS tracking was primarily developed by the US Department of Defense and was used by the military for their operations, to track soldiers in the field. Now it is used by private companies for their business operations and by individuals, mostly to track their vehicles when they get stolen.
Here are some of the common uses and benefits of GPS:
- GPS is commonly used as a car-tracking device. Services such as police, paramedic and fire trucks use this vehicle tracking system to locate and dispatch the vehicle that is nearest to the place where the emergency is.
- GPS trackers are used by companies to monitor their delivery trucks, especially those that deliver perishables, since the goods should be delivered on time, with each delay causing loss of money on their part. With a tracking system, they are able to plan their routes, and if there are any traffic incidents, they are able to find alternative routes. This is also applicable to cargo and courier services and other delivery companies.
- Individuals use vehicle tracking system for their cars, not to monitor them every day, but to activate the GPS in the event that the car gets stolen. Sometimes it is used in autos to track family members. This, however, should be used with the family member's consent.
- Police authorities also use GPS for trained dogs, which is essential when they are in a search operation.
- Wildlife researchers also use GPS tracking devices for the animals they are studying, to monitor migration patterns, and to locate their breeding spots. These tracking devices are small so that they can be implanted on the animal's hide or horns or in cases of birds, they can easily be placed on their legs. Other ways of attaching a tracking device are by placing it on a collar, or gluing it onto the animal's skin. These devices are specially designed to be water resistant, and to stand air and water pressures, especially for those that are used for birds and sea animals.
- GPS devices can also be used on people. Companies may use vehicle trackers to monitor their employees' activities and whereabouts. This is especially important for employees that do field work and take company vehicles and other equipment with them. Since there is a possibility of theft, GPS is used to make sure the employee can be located anytime.
- Families have also used GPS to track their children's movements. Some cell phone companies have implemented GPS technologies into cell phones, so that parents can easily locate their children when they are out of the house.