July 10, 2018

HOW DOES GPS TRACKING WORK?

Written by Devon Tamagi

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Everybody knows what GPS is, or more accurately, they know what GPS does! But how does it work? And why does it matter?

 

WHERE DID GPS COME FROM?

GPS stands for "Global Positioning System", essentially, it’s a group of 27 satellites that orbit the earth. The system was originally developed by the U.S. military as a navigation system but much like the internet, it was soon adopted by civilians to be used in a wide variety of applications. In short, if you want to know where something is, at what time, in all types of weather, anywhere on Earth. You want GPS.

 

This is where the differences matter. Every GPS Tracking device, no matter the application, operates similarly in the initial data gathering stage. It's in the data transferring stage that things start to make a difference, especially for those who rely on GPS Tracking Systems for their business.

 

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Firstly you'll need a GPS Tracking Device. There are many types of devices, such as ones that get hardwired into vehicles and equipment, or self-powered units that get applied to anything you can imagine, all the way down to GPS devices for runners and backcountry hikers. These devices communicate with at least 3 of the 27 satellites in Earth's atmosphere via microwave signals (triangulation!). The data that is transferred from the satellites to the GPS tracking device is stored in the device and then transmitted to a data processing center via a cellular or satellite communication network. This is where the differences matter. Every GPS tracking device, no matter the application, operates similarly in the initial data gathering stage. It's in the data transferring stage that things start to make a difference, especially for those who rely on GPS Tracking Systems for their business.

 

Once the time/location data has been sent to the device from the satellites, where does it go? It's of no use to anyone sitting in a little black box. It needs to be sent to a device that’s connected to the internet so the data can be displayed on a computer, smartphone, or any other similar device. For fleet and business applications there are typically two modes of data transfer. Either by a cellular or satellite network. Each has different benefits and costs attached, which means they should be carefully evaluated by fleet managers. So as to get the most bang for the buck. 

 

 

CELLULAR NETWORK

The most common, and least expensive option is a cellular network. GPS Tracking Devices that utilize the cellular network share bandwidth with every mobile phone in the world, which makes the networks very accessible and affordable. However, the downside is that cellular networks are potentially inconsistent in quality depending on conditions and location. So for fleets who operate in populated areas, it's perfect.

 

SATELLITE MODEM

If your fleet operates in remote areas on a regular basis, then a cellular network connection could be a problem. As connections can get dropped and service interrupted. However, there is a solution. Satellite modems are reliable in all conditions and in any terrain. But the connections to a satellite as a relay rather than a cell tower, as you can imagine, are more expensive.

WHAT DOES YOUR FLEET NEED?

What does your fleet need? Evaluating your operations, and calculating the costs and benefits means you'll be able to make the most profitable decisions. Plug N Track GPS specializes in We can help. Get a free quote today and tell us what you need from the Plug N Track GPS Tracking System