Updated May 30, 2023
What is GPS?
GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System, has a navigation and position location system. The modern transport system has been simplified, and tracking any place’s location is no more a hassle, thanks to the power of GPS. It has a plethora of usage in various applications like monitoring, navigation, surveying, and so on. The Global Positioning System is a navigation system solely based on satellites. It comprises nearly thirty satellites that orbit the Earth at an altitude of twenty thousand kilometers. Originally started by the United States for their military navigation purpose, anyone would receive radio signals with a GPS module enabled.
How does GPS make Working so Easy?
GPS has simplified the positioning in real-time and the synchronization in timing. Thus, it has become an integral part of any mobile-based applications.
Below are some other ways in which it has made working easy for us:
- The safety of the children is a reason for concern for every parent. Often, a child left alone could be lost, which is a nightmare for the parents. It has come to the rescue in such situations as it helps parents keep track of their child with a wearable tracking device that is GPS enabled.
- Aged people often suffer from various diseases like Alzheimer, and letting them wander unaccompanied could be a serious cause of concern. However, with the help of this, one could track elderly people and assure their safety.
- There is always a risk of losing your way during road trips, hiking, and so on. It makes sure you could always find your way back in case you are lost.
- The emergence of SOS has ensured road safety as with just a click of a button, you could share your location, and rescue operation would be in right away.
- It also allows you to collect all your travels and make a collection of the visual bookmarks of those.
- If you have pets, you could tie around a GPS enabled collar around its neck to ensure the pet doesn’t get lost anytime.
- In an emergency, if you call 911, you would always find help based on your location, which is tracked via GPS.
- If there is an urgent appointment, and somehow you need to reach early, you could always use it to get the best and the shortest routes to reach your destination.
- Finding restaurants nearby is just a piece of cake these days as it lets you locate the best restaurants.
- When you are traveling, there is sometimes a possibility you might lose your luggage. However, it allows you to track everything and avoid losing anything important.
- In crowded places like concerts, events, you could lose track of one another. With this, you could always track your friends, family in such situations.
- Sole-travelling is an art these days. However, one could lose their way in certain places if the Global Positioning System is not used properly.
All these features are present in GPS-enabled devices that are readily available in the market these days.
The earth is circled in a precise orbit two times a day by GPS satellites. There are unique signals and certain orbital parameters that are transmitted by each and every satellite, which allows the GPS-enabled devices to the computer and decode the satellite’s exact location. The GPS receivers use this information and trilateration for calculating the exact location of a user. The working topology behind this is such that the GPS receiver measures the distance to each satellite to the time taken while receiving a transmitted signal. The receiver could then determine the user position and electronically display it for measuring various things like – the route back home, a golf course map, and so on.
To calculate the position of one’s latitude and longitude and track its movements, it is required to lock the GPS receiver on to the signal of at least three satellites. The receiver could track your 3-D position, which includes altitude as well as latitude and longitude. This is done when there are four or more satellites in view. In general, eight or more satellites could be tracked by a GPS receiver that is completely dependent on the day’s time and position on the earth. There are, however, few devices that have the programmed functionality to achieve all these.
The GPS unit could calculate information such as speed, track, bearing, the distance of a trip, distance to the destination, the time of the sunrise and sunset, and many more based on your position.
Advantages and Disadvantages of GPS
Given below are the advantages and disadvantages mentioned:
- GPS simplifies the navigation system as you would always be notified about the correct turns and paths to take for reaching the destination.
- Weather doesn’t cause any hindrance to the functionality of the GPS as it works fine in any climate, unlike other navigating devices.
- Other navigation systems are extremely costly compared to GPS, which everyone can afford.
- The hundred percent coverage is one of the standout features of the Global Positioning System.
- In case you move to a new place, it lets you find nearby restaurants, a petrol pump, and so on.
- It could be integrated with other technologies such as mobile phones, which is a useful feature.
- The features of GPS get updates frequently by the United States of America, and thus it’s generally very advanced.
- In case you are in the water and could not find out way out, it allows you to navigate through the water.
- There could be instances where it stops working, and thus, keeping a map as a backup option would come in handy.
- In some cases, the battery of it might run out of power, and thus an external power supply would be required, which is impossible always.
- If there are obstacles such as trees, buildings, or climatic hazards like storms, the signals from the GPS would not be accurate.
It has unlimited potential, and its limitation is only ingrained into the human imagination. It is versatile, and its usage is spread across almost every sector. From helping farmers to navigating airplanes, it has helped different industries. To track people in need of assistance, the military and the emergency crews used GPS in their applications. The five categories where the Global Positioning System applications fall under are – location, navigation, tracking, mapping, and timing.
Below are some of the applications where it is used:
- Aviation: The receivers provide pilots with information about the aircraft’s real-time position. Different destination maps are also provided based on the position of the aircraft’s operation.
- Marine: To navigate through the waters, the captains need an application with accurate navigation properties which would allow them to track any hindrance in their path.
- Farming: The tractors are enabled with GPS receivers to track the season for planting, harvesting. It allows them not to miss the farming season and be prepared beforehand.
- Military: This system acts as a defensive mechanism for various countries during wartime. Initially developed by the US’s defense department, it has now been used by every country in its military operations.
- Telecommunications: To ensure flawless service of their operations, operators provide GPS-enabled mobile devices.
- Social Activities: In various sporting activities like cycling, hiking, paragliding, geocaching, GPS-enabled technologies are used.
- Travels: If you are traveling alone and get lost, having a GPS tracker would let you find your way back.
The Global Positioning System’s working philosophy is based on the data collected from a stream of satellite that is then sent to you based on your location. As explained earlier, it is used in agriculture, farming, military, education, science, etc.
The drives are aided in navigation via GPS receivers. It is also used for the purpose of maritime law. Additionally, GPS references are used by the airlines along with local controllers.
Why Should we use GPS?
The accuracy of the GPS receivers has increased lately due to the parallel multi-channel design. As soon they are turned on, the receivers lock on to the satellites. Within the ten meters, the Garman GPS receivers are extremely accurate, increasing water accuracy. The Wide Area Automation System in Garman GPS receiver could improve its accuracy by a further three meters. The WAAS satellites are extremely flexible, with no additional equipment required to use them. The Differential GPS gives even better accuracy. There are two low-power radio signals which are transmitted by GPS satellites. These signals could pass through the plastic, glass, but fails to penetrate objects like building, mountains. However, this could be achieved by the modern receivers, which are much more sensitive.
The three types of information transmitted by such signal are:
- An I.D. code is known as the pseudorandom code, which identifies the information transmitting satellite. The satellite page of the device tells you the satellite which is transmitting signals.
- The ephemeris data determine the position and the health of the satellite. It also gives information about the current time and date.
- Almanac data give information about a satellite’s location throughout the day.
Though GPS receivers are generally flawless and extremely versatile in their functionality, there are certain factors that could cause hindrance in their signal and accuracy.
- There could be troposphere delays where the signal slows down. The built-in model of the GPS partials resolves this error.
- The tall building could block off the path of the signals, and it could take them a longer time than usual to reach receivers.
- There could be time errors as well because the accuracy of the built-in clock is less than the atomic clocks.
- The accuracy of the signal increases with more visibility of the satellites by a receiver. There could be position errors when the signal is blocked.
- The set-up of a satellite plays an important role in its effectiveness. The relative wide signals make it more effective than a tight grouping.
Why do we Need GPS?
It is now being incorporated in every sector to increase the effectiveness of the business. Any person could locate themselves easily anywhere on the planet, even if they are not technically efficient. In the case of natural disasters, the relief team could track the victims or the survivors’ location and ensure that the rescue operation is done in a timely manner. You could fearlessly travel the world without worrying about the possibility of getting lost as it allows you to track your position at every moment. Soldiers could navigate to a better place in a hostile situation or during the war and even rescue someone in need. Apart from these, there are various reasons in the entertainment industry where it is important.
Any courier service like Hermes and Royal Mail uses it to track their services. Hermes allows customers to track their products at every moment. This ensures the functioning of the business at a high level as customers are always notified about their product. From the central office to the door, everyone knows about the whereabouts of the package. Logistics is another sector where it is needed as it is required to keep track of the vehicles and the drivers. For example, in the case of food or clothes being supplied, any delay could cause the loss of several bucks to the recipient and thus, keeping track of the items ensures transparency in the operations. Other industries like Construction, Road Transport, etc., need it to avoid loss of money and seamless business operation.
Who is the Right Audience for Learning the Technology?
It is used in every field, and thus it is necessary for everyone to master it and learn to use it efficiently at the right time.
How would this Technology help you in Career Growth?
As seen earlier, if you are working in those industries where tracking of products is the business’s primary requirement, then you need to master it for the proper functioning of the business and take your career to the next level by helping the business to grow.
It has enormous potential, and with its frequent changes, more advanced features are coming in your way. It is necessary that you master it and use it smartly.
This has been a guide to What is GPS? Here we have discussed the working, uses, advantages & disadvantages, along with example and career growth. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –