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What Is GPS Tracking And How Does It Work?

What Is GPS Tracking And How Does It Work?

In 1957 a rudimentary artificial satellite called ‘Sputnik’ was launched to orbit the Earth. All it did was send back a radio signal. At the time of writing, this was a scant sixty-five years ago and is a good example of how science and technology has snowballed since then. One area in which we have seen huge advances is in the motor industry, namely GPS tracking.

Satellite Technology

This planet is now orbited by many satellites, doing a lot of different things, some good, some questionable. A dedicated network of orbiting devices can pinpoint our exact position on the surface of the Earth; each of us a little blue dot. Thanks to this technology, a Global Positioning System (GPS) can guide us wherever we need to go at the touch of a button. GPS car tracking though does more than just provide navigation assistance. It can also track and trace a stolen car, provided that is a vehicle tracker is fitted.

What Is GPS Tracking And How Does It Work?

GPS tracking was initially used for military purposes but these days it is more familiar as an option in many modern cars. It also can be found in watches and smartphones as well as the dashboard of a car. It is so familiar now that we mostly use it without thinking. Most vehicles have GPS navigation built in or as an option, directing us to where we need to go, but not all cars offer GPS tracking.

The initials GPS are a handy way of saying ‘global positioning system’. It’s astonishing to think that a specifically-designed network of satellites orbiting the globe can find and locate one car amongst millions.

Fitting a GPS car tracker in a vehicle facilitates this: A car tracker communicates a signal whereby three (or four) individual coordinating satellites use triangulation (or, perhaps more correctly, ‘trilateration’) to locate the vehicle’s precise position. That location is then relayed back to receivers at tracking stations where the data is converted into specific time, location and where necessary, speed and relayed to, say, a smartphone app. 

Essentially, this is the same technology as used in navigation systems. The difference between a GPS car tracker and a sat-nav though is that the latter provides the driver with locations and how to get to them whereas a tracking device independently broadcasts its own location in real time. This is a simple yet truly remarkable scientific feat.

Using a GPS tracker is a straightforward process but there are some differences, for example, how they are powered. Some GPS trackers are designed to plug into the onboard diagnostics (OBD) connector, usually found under the dashboard and these are powered via the connector. 

Some units, like the excellent Tracker™ Retrieve S7 tracker, are battery powered and are fitted easily, hidden away somewhere inside a car or mobile home. The battery lasts a long time but, of course, from time to time this will need changing. 

The best of the vehicle tracking devices though require expert fitting by technicians who know the ideal places to locate a device to thwart thieves. Again these are powered from the vehicle’s system and it’s more or less a case of fit and forget; until that is the vehicle is stolen.

How GPS Tracking Help With Security & Logistics

There are now a multitude of uses for this technology for both work and play and also for security and logistics.

Personal Use

There are a host of benefits to using GPS tracking devices. Increasingly, we use them for our personal pursuits. Some watch brands use GPS tracking and almost all smartphones have it. A global positioning system in our pocket.

Business Use

Increasingly, business and industry are finding uses for vehicle tracking technology. Companies operating fleets can monitor the whereabouts and usage of vehicles and, using advanced telematics which in addition to GPS, can monitor performance of both the vehicle and driver and also plan for maintenance; all aiding fleet efficiency.

Vehicle Security

Despite all the extra security precautions taken by vehicle and machinery manufacturers, personal cars, commercial vehicles and even agricultural plants get stolen. The efforts put into vehicle security are routinely matched by high-tech criminals. Car crime is on the increase.

Our cars are one of the most expensive items we buy and, for many people, are a vital form of transport. That’s why it pays to take extra security measures and that’s where GPS tracking can be of benefit.

GPS Tracking For Cars

These units are necessarily small so that they can be hidden somewhere within a vehicle. It’s best that the fitting is done by a professional company, one which helpfully offers a national mobile service for home fitting. There’s a wide selection to suit all budgets. For example the one of the best car trackers for BMW vehicles is possibly the Trackstar S5 unit which is approved by the German brand.

A GPS tracking device fitted to a car enables a swift response by the police to locate and recover the vehicle. Without a tracker it’s almost certain that the car will be long gone.

GPS tracking has a multitude of uses. Worried parents can fit a car tracking device into a new driver’s first motor. It is how emergency vehicles can find exact locations and how motorists can get from A to B. Further, vehicle theft is rife and that alone makes the professional fitment of a GPS tracking device a worthwhile accessory for every car.

It isn’t compulsory learning but understanding how GPS works and why a GPS tracking device fitted in your car offers such a massive advantage to safety and as an anti-theft device is worth looking into. There are many different units available to suit all types of vehicle, from supercars to vans, from electric cars to a Vauxhall Corsa. Whilst the science may be complex, fitting a tracker is a simple and inexpensive way to get extra security against the criminal fraternity. 

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