GPS tracking enables someone to monitor the position of an asset usually in real time. There are three important things that need to be present in order to track the location of boats, cars, or any movable object. The requirements are a GPS unit, a transmitter, and a remote display. While GPS tracking is commonly used for real-time monitoring of vehicles, the technology can also be used to determine the position of people and wildlife.
The GPS is essentially a radio receiver designed to read position data that are transmitted by special satellites. Inside the GPS is a microchip that is able to compute the data that is embedded in the radio signals transmitted by four or more satellites. When a solution is derived, the GPS will be able to determine its position to an accuracy of 10 meters or better.
The GPS calculations need to be broadcasted to someone who is interested in monitoring moving objects. This is accomplished by radio or by SMS. The mobile unit is configured to transmit its position to a desired interval. Modern units are able to transmit position data by connecting to the internet wirelessly using GPRS or 3G.
The base station that receives data from the tracker consists of a display unit that shows the location of the GPS in a map. It is actually a computer that is able to do other things to the data. It can analyze statistically how efficiently a vehicle is doing its assigned route.
Position data from mobile units can also be sent to a web server. In this application, everyone with the right credentials can log in to the server in order to see in real time the location of their assets. The advantage of this setup is that there is no need of an actual base station. Anyone who has access to a computer that is connected to the internet can view the location of assets on a web browser.
There are many practical applications of the tracker. When used to determine the positions of various vehicles, then it becomes a GPS fleet tracking application. The police use tracking to be kept aware of the whereabouts of vehicles that are used for criminal acts.
GPS tracking of people have many uses also. A person who is out on bail but is restricted to only one place like his home is required to wear an ankle bracelet. When that person moves outside an allowed zone, the tracker will log this event for the police use.
A promising use of the technology is to determine the whereabouts of kids. Parents constantly worry when their kids are away from their homes and schools. The use of the application is a non-obtrusive way for parents to find out where their kids are. Of course it would help a lot if the kids know that they are being monitored. If they become uncooperative, they could just turn the device off.
GPS tracking is a perfect example of technology integration. It brings three independent technologies together to form a new application. The premise is actually very simple but it has to take computerization to accomplish.