How To

How Does a GPS Tracking System work?

Millions of individuals and businesses take GPS for granted today, but because of its ubiquity, it is definitely worth gaining an appreciation for the systems that underpin this vital technology.

To that end, here is a quick introduction to the mechanics behind GPS tracking and the ways it is applied in the digital era

Basics & uses

Although there are a multitude of complex technologies at play in the provision of GPS tracking, at a superficial level it is fairly easy to understand how these systems function.

Modern driver tracking solutions work by placing either a standalone tracker device or a smartphone with integrated GPS capabilities with the individual or vehicle that needs to be traced.

The compatible device, known as the receiver, communicates directly with positioning satellites owned by the US that orbit at around 20,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface in a carefully orchestrated configuration. The receiver can interact with signals from multiple satellites and use this information to make calculations based on the relative distance from each.

Accuracy of modern GPS receivers is to within a few centimeters, and in isolation, this technology means that the location of a device can be measured very accurately whether it is at rest or in motion.

Tracking software

The raw data from a GPS receiver is not just useful in isolation, but in a tracking, context can be harnessed by cutting edge software provided by to provide a range of benefits, particularly for businesses.

Say a company operates a fleet of vehicles, each of which is used to deliver goods to customers and clients within a given area. Tracking devices can be used to keep tabs on the location of drivers on the fly, meaning that those awaiting deliveries can be shown the precise position of their package in real-time.

The rise of smartphones with built-in GPS capabilities has changed the way that this type of tracking is handled since separate trackers are no longer needed and instead software apps installed on mobiles can perform a cavalcade of useful functions. This brings benefits not only to customers but also to businesses aiming to improve the efficiency of their operations.

Additional benefits

There are other reasons for businesses to make use of GPS tracking aside from their cost-saving potential and their customer-pleasing capabilities. Vehicle tracking is clearly advantageous from a security perspective, for example, since it means that even if theft occurs, retrieving the stolen delivery van will be much easier.

Route optimization is another essential benefit that GPS tracking provides. Rather than requiring relevant calculations to be made manually, advanced software can help dispatchers to stay on top of this tricky task automatically, even making adjustments according to live events, such as congestion, highway maintenance, road closures, and more.

GPS tracking systems are going to remain integral to businesses for the foreseeable future and it is likely that it will be software innovations rather than hardware improvements that deliver the most significant enhancements in this arena.

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Kamran Sharief

I write about technology, marketing and digital tips. In the past I've worked with Field Engineer, Marcom Arabia and You can reach me at

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Kamran Sharief

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