What Are Global Positioning Systems

According to Wikipedia “The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.”

In this article we will discuss what global positioning systems (GPS) are, how they work and what these tools can be used for.

The GPS system which was first used by the Air Force back in 1972 and approved by the US government for public consumption in 1983 consists of three key elements. The first is the 24 satellites that circle the earth sending radio signals from their location in orbit to the individual GPS receivers. Then there are the five separate monitoring stations that send data back up to orbiting satellites. And finally your GPS receiver picks up the signals from the GPS satellites to work out your exact location.

Although the United States was the originator of this concept, China and Russia are closely are on our heels. The government used to send the satellites into orbit, but that function is now being done more by private enterprise.

As technology continues to change and the prices of these devices declines, they are more readily available which means the next 5 to 10 years could see exciting prospects for GPS technology.

It used to be that GPS was used for map navigation or vehicle tracking, but a little bit of creativity and some trial and error can bring about many possibilities that can benefit you now.

Here are some of the uses for a tracking device.

  1. One that we have read and heard about is tracking seniors with Alzheimer’s who live in nursing homes. Frequently they wander away from their living facilities and cannot remember who they are or where they came from. The GPS system can help locate them easily saving loved ones and police officials anxiety, time and money.
  2. Another use is tracking where your children are located.
  3. You can plan a road trip around things that you want to see points of interest, landmarks and restaurants that you may want to hit.
  4. Roadside assistance with the touch of a button may be available in the car that you are driving right now. If not, a GPS can help you in an emergency.
  5. Track anything from pets, to luggage, friends at a concert, graduation or any big gathering.

Uses for GPS are really only limited to the quality of the connection, the satellite feeds and your imagination. A new satellite network called Galileo will help improve satellite feeds which will only enhance the GPS uses.

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