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Types of GPS Tracking and How They Work

There’s no doubt with the fact that GPS technology has made our lives easier. Thanks to this incredible technology, we’re now able to reach a destination in the shortest time possible. Alongside, we can also prevent valuables from being stolen by identifying a vehicle’s whereabouts.

GPS technology is not just limited to smartphones and handheld units. Almost every item, such as dog collars, pens, and bags, make use of this technology. So, if you’re worried about where your child or pet could’ve gone, you can track them down easily.

Speaking of tracking, it’s worth noting that there are different types of GPS trackers. Each type is used for specific purposes. In this guide, you’ll learn the types of GPS tracking and how they work.

What Is GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. This technology involves a network of satellites and receivers that help users determine location remotely.

GPS technology doesn’t require a user’s input to work because it relies on 24 or more satellites. As they orbit, each satellite continuously transmits radio signals which are received by a GPS device. The device then notes the time taken for the signal to reach its location and then uses it to calculate its distance from each satellite.

Distance from at least four satellites is required for accurate information. Once the GPS device knows the distance, it uses geometry to determine its location in three dimensions.

Originally, GPS was used for military applications and then later was also made accessible to civilians. It is widely used in vehicles, ships, and aircraft for navigation.

What Is GPS Tracking?

GPS tracking is the monitoring of a person, animal, vehicle, or asset through a GPS device. The device uses microwaves to not only pinpoint location but also to track speed and movement. All this information can be useful for solving issues.

What Does A GPS Tracker Do?

A GPS tracker is a tracking device that gives real-time information when it is installed in a vehicle or worn by a person. Below we’ve described the uses of a GPS tracker.

  1. Locating Positions

The most common usage of GPS trackers is locating positions. If you’re driving to a place you’ve never been before, you can easily reach the destination with the help of GPS. The technology shows you the quickest route to get to your desired place.

  1. Search And Rescue

GPS comes in handy during an emergency. For example, if you want to escape from an unfamiliar area, you can call emergency numbers on your phone. The rescue team will then be able to identify your location with the help of GPS. You won’t even need to give out location details!

  1. Monitoring Elderly People

Another good usage of a GPS tracker is that it helps you to keep an eye on the elderly people. With the press of an emergency button in the tracking device, an elderly can make calls for immediate assistance. The tracking device can be worn as a watch or inserted into clothing for easy access.

  1. Preventing Theft

GPS also helps prevent vehicles, artworks, and other high-valued assets from being stolen. A tracking device is usually mounted to the vehicle or an asset to track its location. It’s important to note that the tracking device isn’t obvious to anyone, or otherwise culprits are likely to remove it.

  1. Military Use

GPS plays a crucial role in the military. It helps military forces track aircrafts and troop movements. Apart from that, GPS helps them view updated maps for planning and hit targets accurately from long distances.

  1. Tracking For Law Enforcement

GPS trackers are also used to catch criminals. By attaching a GPS tracker to the suspect’s vehicle, police and investigators can identify the suspect’s whereabouts.

  1. Locating Animals

If you’re worried about your pet from being missing, you can attach a GPS tracking device to its collar. The device keeps track of your pet’s movements and helps you to recover it immediately.

  1. Child’s Safety

Students wearing GPS tracking-enabled ID cards help parents know where their child is going and whether they are in an emergency situation.

  1. Logistics

Logistics require fast and on-time delivery of goods. Without a GPS tracker, it can be hard to tell the transportation status of the vehicle. GPS also helps cut down fuel and operation costs, so there’s increased efficiency.

  1. Treasure Hunting

During treasure hunting, players can spot hidden clues in sites as programmed on treasure maps. The maps are uploaded online so that people involved in the activity can start hunting for rewards.

  1. Mining

GPS trackers are also used in the mining industry. Miners can use the device to extract minerals from different layers of the earth’s surface. The tracking device is known to work well even in worth case scenarios at two mines.

  1. Hunting And Fishing

When you visit hunting or fishing spots, you can mark the exact location in the map so that you can come back next time.

  1. Flying Planes

Aircrafts use GPS trackers so that the commanding station can monitor their position. Also, attaching a tracking device to the flight recorder can help rescuers retrieve the recorder when it goes missing.

  1. Mapping And Surveying

GPS offers accurate mapping and surveying of the physical world. It also cuts down on equipment and labor costs that would otherwise be high if conventional methods were followed.

Construction companies benefit from GPS surveying because they’re able to complete projects quickly and efficiently.

Types Of GPS Trackers

GPS trackers are of four types- satellite-based, battery-operated, plug-in, and hardwired.

Satellite-based GPS Trackers

When cell-based tracking fails because of the lack of cell towers, satellite-based GPS trackers come in handy. This type of GPS tracker gives coverage in isolated areas around the globe. They are useful in keeping track of assets and vehicles constantly.

Battery-operated GPS Trackers

Battery-operated GPS trackers provide the least obvious way of monitoring a vehicle, object, or a person. They can either be magnetically attached to a metal surface or placed on a console.

This type of GPS tracker typically reports in every 60 seconds, but you can also reduce the time by choosing a subscription plan. It is also capable of sending alerts when a vehicle is running at excessive speeds.

The battery of this GPS tracker can last from six months to seven years. It can also be rechargeable or non-rechargeable.

Plug-in GPS Trackers

This type of GPS Tracker is usually plugged in to the OBD-II port of a car. The tracker receives power and data from the port. Like battery-operated GPS trackers, these trackers can also report in a specific time interval and send alerts.

Plug-in GPS trackers are typically used to keep an eye on teen and senior drivers for their safety.

Hardwired GPS Trackers

Hardwired GPS trackers are used in cars that don’t have an OBD-II port. It can also be used in trucks and other vehicle. The tracker is wired directly into a vehicle, and its placement of it makes it less obvious to people. As long as the device is installed correctly, it works the same way as plug-in trackers.

What Vehicles And Assets Can Be Tracked?

There’s generally no limitation when it comes to tracking vehicles and assets. A GPS tracking device can be used on:

  • Cars
  • Buses
  • Delivery trucks and vans
  • Motorbikes and bicycles
  • Containers
  • Machinery
  • Artwork and artifacts
  • Weapons and ammunition
  • Technical equipment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Precious metals
  • Hazardous waste

Legality Of GPS Trackers

The legality of GPS trackers depends on how the tracking devices are used. If you want to install a tracking device in your vehicle or asset, it is completely legal. It is also legal if you intend to track vehicles and assets related to your business.

However, installing the device in someone else’s vehicle without their consent is considered illegal. Before doing so, you’ll need to do some research on the current federal, state, and local laws. Laws are frequently changing, so it is necessary to stay updated on amendments.

If you want to monitor your employees in the workplace, you should let them know when and how you will use the GPS tracking data. It’s crucial that they understand everything before you start monitoring them.

Apart from that, it’s legal to keep track of your child below 18 years of age. It’s also legal to monitor adults with special needs as you can use the device to keep them safe.

Final Word

GPS tracking devices are a worthwhile investment as it is used for various purposes. Whether you want to retrieve a stolen asset or keep track of your loved one, a GPS tracking device is all you need.

When choosing a GPS tracker, make sure you select the one that meets your requirements. It’s also crucial that the company has excellent customer service, should you have trouble using the device. Alongside, it is a good idea to read reviews about your desired tra

Avatar of Shakil Ahmed

Shakil Ahmed

Shakil Ahmed is a contributing writer and editor on outdoorenjoy.com. he specializes in writing articles in various fields. His work has spanned topics that include home product reviews, and social media research, and has appeared in publications such as The Spruce, Wirecutter, and very well, among others. he has also been involved in the financial industry, and he has many creative and unique insights when it comes to articles.

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