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What is GPS tracking, for what purposes is it used


GPS technology was invented in the 20th century. It is used everywhere, including to track the location of a vehicle. A GPS tracker communicates with a satellite at a preset frequency and records the coordinates of the vehicle. As the world's car fleet grows, the dependence of cars on GPS trackers is only increasing.

Many car owners who have a GPS tracker installed in their car do not know why they need this device. Some express fair concerns: how dangerous it is to drive with an active GPS tracker, "what if I'm being watched?"

In this article we will try to understand how a GPS tracker works, what its advantages and disadvantages are. How it can be dangerous and vice versa - useful.

Table of Contents

What is a GPS tracker

A GPS tracker is a small box, which can be attached to the car (from the inside or outside). It allows you to track the movement of the object on which it is attached, relative to the position of the GPS satellite.

Difference between a GPS tracker and in-car navigation

Key differences between GPS tracker and navigation app are shown in the table.

GPS tracker

  • Tracks user location
  • Records GPS coordinates of an object relative to the satellite
  • Transmits data to another remote device (PC, phone)

Navigation system

  • Uses an app (Waze, Google Maps, etc.)
  • Displays your current location on a virtual map
  • Builds a route to a point
  • Data is stored on a device itself and is not transmitted remotely

Features of car GPS trackers functioning

The trackers require constant communication with the satellite in order to function. The position of the object is determined on the basis of three points (this process is called trilateration).

Thus a GPS tracker, connected with a satellite, determines its location and distance. The data is then recorded in the form of latitude, longitude and other data such as time and elevation.

Types of GPS trackers

In general, GPS trackers are divided into passive and active.

Active GPS trackerPassive GPS tracker
- Costlier
- Data is stored directly on the device
-GPS coordinates and location can be viewed on the screen of the device
- Data is available in real-time via software
- Cheaper
- Data is transferred to a remote device or written to a storage device
- Data cannot be viewed in real-time

What you need for the GPS tracker to work

  • The tracker needs to be activated and selected for operation/data collection mode
  • Operation requires electricity: OBD-II, cigarette lighter, separate battery or rechargeable battery
  • Software installation is required for active trackers
  • Some require a cable to connect to a HUD or internet connection to send GPS readings remotely

How GPS trackers are used

  • Business owners install GPS trackers on trucks and cars to track the location of employees' movements. This allows not only to find out where the vehicle is located, but also to check the amount of fuel and its costs
  • GPS transmitters are installed on scooters, bicycles and rental cars. This helps prevent theft or theft of the vehicle
  • Unauthorized use of GPS trackers for covert tracking of the car driver. This can be used for private purposes as well as by security services.
  • Personal use - for example, a GPS tracker can be useful for recording a route when traveling. Subsequently, the route can be viewed through specialized programs and services, such as Google Earth.

GPS tracker benefits

Let's talk about the benefits of using GPS tracking tools.

  • Saving time: the analysis of the route allows you to find its shortcomings and reduce the distance in the future. In addition, you can exclude from the route areas with frequent accidents and traffic jams.

  • Analysis of driver behavior and control: GPS tracker helps fleet and vehicle owners to control vehicle usage. If the driver deviates from the route or stops at an unscheduled place, the data is recorded in the GPS tracker.

  • Improved safety: The GPS tracker transmits data about the driver's location. Accordingly, if he does not get in touch, GPS data can be transmitted to the rescue service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations. This is especially useful for travelers in sparsely populated areas and extreme conditions.

Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in GPS and cartography with 15 years of experience. Additionally, Ilia has extensive experience in data recovery on PC and mobile. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions on MGT and answer them.