Random Posts

header ads

How Does a GPS Tracking System Work?

The worldwide radio-navigation system, more commonly referred to as the Global Positioning System (or GPS), leverages the power of more than 24 satellites and their associated receiver stations on the ground. The Department of Defense (DOD) of the U.S. is responsible for the funding, control and maintenance of this impressive system.

Though this system was first designed to help the U.S. Military, it is now used by almost everyone in the world with very few restrictions or limitations of its use.

The Concept

In a nutshell, GPS tracking is simply the method used to trace and/or track the location of a particular person, place or thing. GPS devices are commonly used with cellphones, in vehicles and many other special devices that can be either portable or fixed. With it, one can easily find the physical location of another object or person that also uses a GPS tracking system.

For example, a company can place a GPS device on their vehicles to monitor and see where their employees are travelling to and if they’re following the expected scheduled route. Or, parents can use GPS to check or track where their kids are when they are travelling on a school bus that also has a GPS tracking system.

These days, there are many mobile applications, including food delivery and cab booking app, that leverage the conveniences of GPS tracking systems. It enables customers to easily track where their taxi is, or how far away a given delivery person is from their home. It can also be a useful system for when people need to track valuable items that are being shipped to them from abroad.

The Method

Global Navigation Satellite System (or GNSS network) is what GPS tracking systems use to track different people, places and objects. This particular network incorporates a variety of satellites to identify the location of a vehicle or device. This information can then be transmitted to GPS devices using special microwave signals.

Besides location, GPS devices can also help track the speed that vehicles are travelling at, the route they are taking, and the time they have spent in a particular place. There is an abundance of navigational data out there that businesses, agencies and individuals can use to determine historical and real-time trend of different things.

A receiver usually processes the special signals that are sent by satellites using the GPS. Currently, there are more 27 GPS satellites orbiting the earth in space. Although only 24 of these satellites are operational at any point in time, the extra satellites are there as a backup in case any of the other satellites should be damaged or stop working.

These satellites move around the earth every 12 hours, sending radio signals to our plant all the while which GPS receivers can effectively capture and interpret.

Understanding the Process

Not only can GPS identify the location and speed of a moving object, it can also compute the positions of objects and render a three-dimensional view of them. This is made possible by four specialized GPS satellite signals.

Trilateration, the mathematical principle that GPS tracking systems follow to make these calculations, falls in one of the two categories: 2D Trilateration or 3D Trilateration.

To successfully make this mathematical calculation, and thereby compute positional information, GPS receivers need to know two things. For one, the GPS receiver needs to figure out the exact location of an item or a person with the help of three satellites. Then, the GPS needs to determine the distance of these three satellites from the physical location of the item or the person with the tracker.

The radio waves that the receiver gets from the satellites are nothing but electromagnetic energy that can travel at the speed of the light.

Active vs. Passive Tracking with GPS

There are two ways in which GPS store and track data.

Firstly, some GPS tracking systems store this information within themselves, a process known as “passive tracking”. A passive GPS tracking system helps you to monitor what happened to a vehicle or a person during a specific time. The information is usually stored in an internal memory card. In some cases, you can connect to and download the data wirelessly for analyses.

Other systems will send their data through a modem or to a centralized database. A common practice, this is called two-way GPS or “active tracking”. An active GPS tracking system helps you to monitor in real-time. Active tracking is the best option if you are running a fleet as a business and want to ensure that the vehicle is following the right route and that there are no delays during the journey.