What is a GPS Tracking Device and How Does it Work?

What is a GPS Tracking Device and How Does it Work?

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What is a GPS Tracking Device and How Does it Work?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It was initially developed by the U.S. military and was first used in combat during the Gulf War. It was tested during Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. GPS is used for all U.S. military aircraft, vessels, vehicles, and personnel. It is used for weapons targeting systems and positioning. Most of the weapons systems can be used to track ground and air targets before they flag them as hostile.


What does a GPS tracking device do?

The definition of GPS tracking is the surveillance of a location in order to track a person or object remotely. GPS trackers can be used to track a vehicle, asset, person, or animal such as a dog or cat. GPS tracking devices use a network of several satellites in orbit as well as devices on the ground to establish the location of a person or object. GPS positioning is constantly monitored at the GPS Master Control Station which is responsible for maintenance. It triangulates exact positioning by receiving three signals.

How Does A GPS Tracker Work?

The GPS tracker works off of a satellite and cellular connection. The unit has a SIM card inside that works off of a phone provider such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or others to communicate and store the data. This also allows live tracking. The cellular connection and whether the unit is a 2G, 3G, or 4G device will limit the coverage available. GPS trackers use a maps interface such as Google Maps to display the data and log the coordinates, addresses, history and speed. You can receive a satellite view, street view, or hybrid view.

How Accurate is GPS Tracker Data?

The accuracy of a GPS Tracker depends on the signal strength of the area that it is in. If it is in an area with excellent cellular and GPS signal, it will be a lot more accurate as opposed to a low-signal area. The placement of the unit will also determine the accuracy of the GPS tracker. It’s recommended to place the GPS tracker in an area where it won't be blocked by any metal.

Types of GPS Tracking Systems

Active GPS Systems

Active GPS systems include GPS trackers that track in real-time using a SIM card. They require some type of subscription fee in order to track location since they need to maintain a cellular connection. Different plans are available and discounted rates are usually provided for paying for multiple months in advance. Some real-time GPS trackers can provide updates every minute or even faster, depending on the device.

Passive GPS Systems

Passive GPS systems don't provide real-time tracking and are usually known as GPS loggers. They store the location data using a memory card. The device is later plugged into a computer to view the locations traveled. With these devices, the data cannot be viewed remotely using a smartphone – the device must be retrieved.

When are GPS Tracking Devices used?

GPS trackers have several benefits, such as being able to recover lost or stolen goods as well as keep track of vehicles, boats, and trailers. They can also be used by fleets to manage their employees' driving activity and make sure they are completing the assigned routes. Further, they can be used in cases of suspected infidelity as well as for personal security and to log criminal activity.

Search and Rescue

GPS trackers can be used to recover lost items such as jewelry or other valuables. They can also be used to track individuals as well as for rescue operations. Real-time trackers are able to provide instant text notifications if any objects or people move in addition to geofencing perimeters in areas of interest. Some portable trackers come with a panic button as well, where a phone number can be provided to alert the caregiver of an emergency.

Personal Asset Tracking

Asset tracking involves tracking personal assets such as a car, boat, or trailer. For this type of tracking, the portable GPS tracker is best since most have an optional weatherproof case. The portable tracker is also easy to charge and an additional extended battery can be used to increase the battery life. Simply place the tracker in a secure location and keep a look at your assets.

Business and Fleet Management

Fleet management involves keeping track of multiple GPS trackers on one account. They can be used by an employer to monitor all of their vehicles and make sure the employees are doing their job. The most common types of GPS trackers for this application are the OBD tracker as well as the Hard Wire tracker. These trackers don't need to be recharged and will constantly track the location. Some of them can also keep track of the miles traveled and provide a breadcrumb trail as well.

Personal Cases and Evidence Collection

The portable GPS tracker with its magnetic case is the ideal one to use to track criminal activity as well as for personal security. It is very easy to place and doesn't require having access to the inside of a vehicle. This is also the ideal GPS tracker to use for cases of suspected infidelity if it is difficult to get inside the vehicle. The battery is rechargeable and features a magnetic weatherproof case to attach to the outside of a vehicle.

Why Businesses Should Use GPS Trackers

GPS trackers are useful for business managers to better understand the driving habits of employees. It is important for an employer to make sure their employees are completing their routes as well as their jobs. In addition to logging location, employers can see how long employees are at the job site to make sure they are there for the designated amount of time. Employers can also track driving habits such as speeding and hard braking to make sure that the employees are driving safe. Here are some of the main reasons businesses might use GPS trackers.

  1. Improving Security

Tracking assets in businesses is important for keeping track of shipping containers and assets that are moved during trade shows. GPS trackers can provide a text notification as soon as the asset arrives at the designated location as well as when it is moved. In case of an emergency or crime, the location data can then be sent to the authorities.

  1. Improving Asset Utilization And Delivery Speed

GPS trackers can also be used to optimize businesses by verifying completed orders and releasing employees that don't complete the order in a timely manner. In this case, reliance on GPS technology increases efficiency in the business. By tracking location, vehicles can be deployed in a nearby area for fuel and time optimization.

  1. Optimizing Business Expenses

GPS trackers can help cut expenses on fuel consumption. By monitoring the routes, faster/shorter routes can be discovered, leading to more cost-efficient driving. The speed of the vehicle can also be monitored since it relates to the fuel consumption. By using GPS tracking, therefore, employers are able to better monitor the amount of fuel used as well as keep track of employees in order to cut business expenses.

  1. Tracking Working Hours

Some employees engage in timesheet fraud by working additional hours. With the use of GPS tracking, employers can make sure that employees are only working the hours required of them. This can save employers money on overtime hours for employees trying to receive additional benefits. It can also help create a more efficient business by releasing those employees and recruiting more reliable ones.

Legalities of GPS Trackers

In the legalities of GPS tracking, it is important to differentiate between personal possessions and non-personal possessions. If you are placing a GPS tracker on a non-personal possession, it is a must to review country and state laws first. GPS tracking laws vary from state to state in the United States. In most cases, the underlying motive behind installing the GPS tracker needs to be determined and verified from a local attorney in order to ensure that you are following the law.

Spy-Spot & GPS Tracking

Spy Spot has several different types of GPS trackers, such as a portable GPS tracker for assets, individuals, and vehicles, a hardwire tracker, and an OBD tracker for better managing fleets and businesses. The hardwire tracker has a kill-switch which can remotely disable the ignition in case of car theft or unwanted driving. The hardwire tracker and obd tracker provide minute-to-minute updates and monitor location, speed, hard braking, excessive acceleration, and more, along with providing a breadcrumb trail

Added Benefits for Using SpySpot for All Tracking Needs

Using Spy Spot for all types of GPS tracking has extra benefits such as 24/7 customer service, including email support, phone support, and an answering service for after-hours. Another benefit of using Spy Spot is discounted package deals on bulk purchases of GPS tracking which includes both product and service discounts. Spy Spot also provides an easy-to-use software available on both computer and smartphone.