Understanding GPS Tracking
The science of GPS tracking technology is solely based upon the network of satellites circling the Earth everyday. Known as the Global Positioning System, these 27 Department of Defense satellites are used to discover the precise position or location of people, vehicles or any other tangible objects here on Earth.
A GPS tracker is used to gather low level radio signals from the network of satellites orbiting the Earth and use those signals to determine a wealth of data related to location and position, recording the meticulous data directly to a on-board GPS receiver or transmitting the information to a off-site computer server where that locational data can be accessed by a computer, mobile device or tablet with Internet capabilities. The GPS tracking data can be transmitted via cellular data module embedded in the GPS tracker or alternative source such as a radio. The data gathered and stored onto the car GPS tracking device can include information such as speed, altitude, longitude positions, latitude positions, times en route, times departed and more.
When placed in an area with ideal reception, a quality GPS tracker can be accurate up to 2.5 meters, or approximately 6 feet.
GPS Data Loggers: Passive Tracking
Tracking devices that store information to the internal memory via flash memory or memory card are classified as passive monitoring systems or data loggers. Think of these types of GPS trackers as recorders, acquiring then storing GPS tracking data that can be reviewed at a later time. Recorded data can be accessed with the use of a download cable, or direct connect between system and computer via USB port. For example, data from the GPS Tracking Key Pro is accessed by download cable, connecting the tracking system to USB port of computer. Whereas, the standard model of the GPS Tracking Key’s data is accessible by connecting the unit itself to the USB port of personal computer.
What makes GPS data loggers special is that they can record data continuously, (The GPS Tracking Key and GPS Tracking Key Pro record second-by-second), are much more affordable than GPS devices that push data and these devices demand no monthly service or activation charges/fees)
Active GPS Trackers: Real-Time GPS Tracking
Real-time tracking systems record data and then transmit that information, making it available for review or analysis instantaneously. Users of active tracking devices can access GPS tracking data by logging onto a secure website where a unique password and username are entered, or through software application. The location of the vehicle, person or asset can then be viewed in real-time over the backdrop of a mapping program such as Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth. Although real-time GPS trackers are more expensive than GPS data loggers and require monthly service obligations, the cost of real-time tracking systems has came down in price dramatically as the telematics and cellular communication industry has became more competitive.
What makes these sophisticated monitoring devices special is that they can help keep children safe, increase the safety of teen drivers, provide businesses a way to better manage fleet operations, give car owners a theft recovery solution, help families monitor the travels of elderly members struggling with independence, and law enforcement agencies execute reliable surveillance operations.
Benefits Of GPS Tracking
Regardless if an individual is using a data logger or real-time tracking device, a GPS tracker can be beneficial on many different levels. From the consumer prospective, GPS tracking technology can provide security and safety for children, teens and the elderly. In the business world, vehicle tracking devices can boost fleet management efforts, document tax deductible mileage and create a method of holding employees accountable for tasks while working outside of the office.
GPS tracking technology is making the world smaller, allowing people to monitor assets, people and vehicles from anywhere in the world.
GPS Tracking Market Has Come Of Age
Once President Ronald Reagan issued the directive making GPS freely available for civilian use in 1980′s, the evolutionary wheels began to turn. The early years of commercial use, up to and including the 1990′s, were limited due to several factors. This included a limited number of GPS chip manufacturers, antiquated and costly microprocessor technology, and an intentional degraded signal called Selective Availability. The highest quality signals were reserved for the U.S. military while the civilian market was left with a significant variation. The net results were high cost devices, limited capability, and bulky equipment. At that time, these devices were limited to law enforcement agencies and those willing to sacrifice performance at a high price. The new millennium ushered in an incredible transformation in the GPS tracking industry. President Bill Clinton ordered Selective Availability turned off at midnight May, 1, 2000. This allowed developers to provide ultra sensitive and accurate GPS tracking data we see in today’s market.
There are three key technologies that come together and compliment GPS-enabled devices. All three have gone through incredible development growth phases that coincidentally have come together nicely. The microprocessor industry has produced devices that are smaller, faster, and more powerful. Microprocessors provide the platform for system integrators and manufacturers. Since GPS satellites transmit unidirectional signals, customers such as fleet tracking that need to locate assets remotely depend on telecommunications and/or communication satellites. Cellular data communications or General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is the most common method of viewing remote GPS devices. This is because the cost of cellular data is much more cost effective than satellite communications. As experienced in the GPS and microprocessor industries, cellular communications have become a reliable and preferred method in mobility.
Fast-forwarding to today, GPS tracking technology has become a staple of daily living. The most popular use of course is in-vehicle navigation with many portable versions retailing under $ 100. Many current uses of GPS tracking are transparent to many of us. GPS tracking technology can be found in our cell phones, electric meters attached to our homes, etc. The cost to add GPS receivers in today’s electronics is minimal and provides manufacturer’s a competitive edge. Because of this, more and more devices are equipped as a beneficial product feature. Although millions of people benefit from GPS tracking technology, law enforcement agencies have become dependent on it. GPS tracking devices help lower their operational costs and provide an incredible evidence tool that did not exist before. Although considered controversial by some as pre-placement warrant requirements are being fought in the courts, nobody can dispute the effectiveness of the technology.
Over the past 30 years, the United States dominated space segment for global positioning. This will no longer be the case as the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) introduced to civilians in 2007. The Chinese and European Union are also working on their own systems further demonstrating the value GPS technology brings to all of us. Whether you own multiple vehicles needing a fleet tracking solution or an individual with limited means, GPS tracking technology is an affordable luxury and is here to stay.