The Global Positioning System (GPS) was originally designed for use by the US military, and funded by the Department of Defense, as a method of determining the exact location of people or objects. But since the US government did not place any restrictions against civil use of the system, it was quickly adopted for both commercial and private purposes.
The tracking system is made up of 24 satellite stations which orbit the Earth, along with three extra backup satellites in case of failure, which communicate with devices by using microwave signals. Devices can be placed in vehicles, in cell phones, on objects such as high-value packages, or even on people. Users can then monitor the movement of an object, vehicles, or person as the GPS device transmits information on its exact whereabouts. Devices can even monitor speed and direction of movement, making it possible to track not only the location of people or objects but also projected arrival times at predetermined destinations.
The possibilities are endless, but in a commercial setting GPS tracking devices are generally used in one of two ways: either passive or active GPS tracking systems.
A passive GPS tracking system monitors and stores data related to the location of the device. The data is usually stored on a memory card inside the device itself, and users can then download and view the information on a computer. Alternatively, the data may be downloaded wirelessly at predetermined times or points during a journey. A passive tracking system is best used when data only needs to be analyzed after the fact.
With an active GPS tracking system, users can actually view information related to the device’s location and movement in real time. This means users can actually see where an object or person is located at any given moment, view information about speed and direction, and make predictions on arrival times. In a commercial setting, these types of devices are used to monitor employee behavior, check the location of company vehicles, and streamline work processes related to transportation.