Vehicle Tracking Guides | What Is GPS: What It’s Used For And How It Works

What Is GPS: What It’s Used For And How It Works

GPS devices are a vehicle tracking tool that use signals to send you location data. GPS can be used to track everything from vans to pets. But what exactly is it and who uses it? This is everything you need to know about GPS.

User tracking GPS location on a smartphone

What is GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. That’s a mouthful, so let’s just go with GPS. What you need to know is that there are satellites floating in the atmosphere (over 30!) than can all detect where a person or item is using signals. This is the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

Everyone from the US military to some game apps use GPS. Google Maps and other navigation systems use GPS a lot to help you find your way.

What is GPS tagging and why is it useful?

GPS tagging is when you or a professional put a small GPS tracker on a person, vehicle, machine, or other item. This is useful because you can track where a person or object is. That boosts your security and gives reassurance. Practically, GPS is often used to track stolen cars and goods.

What are GPS trackers used for?

We often use GPS trackers without knowing it. When you turn on ‘location’ on your phone to get directions on a map app, GPS is tracking your location. Mapping and navigation are the most common uses of the technology. But it’s used in all kinds of ways you might not have heard of.

1. GPS tracking can track vehicles

You’ve seen it in the movies and crime TV shows. GPS vehicle tracking does what it says on the tin. The GPS device is attached to the vehicle and tracks its location. All vehicles from motorbikes to trucks can be tracked using GPS.

That lets you keep an eye on your fancy car or delivery van, just in case a thief gets any ideas. For example, using a GPS tracker for a car, you can hand over the GPS location to the police. That often makes vehicle recovery can move faster.

2. GPS for exercise tracking

Ready to break your hiking record? GPS tracks where you are and where you’ve gone. Outdoorsy types get a lot of use out of GPS to see how well their exercise is going. Trekkers, cyclists, and joggers can all make use of it to track their progress. And, yes, game apps like Pokémon Go also use GPS to see how far you’ve walked.

3. GPS can help to find missing people and pets

Many parents and caretakers now use GPS to track vulnerable people, including children and those in care. Smartwatches and other devices can be equipped with GPS to make the device comfortable and easy to use. Like vehicle tracking, this helps you and the police locate the missing person quickly.

For dogs and cats, collars equipped with GPS are becoming more popular. Just like tracking people, this helps to find the missing animal much faster. You won’t have to put up posters and worry for weeks or longer. With GPS, you simply follow the device and recover your lost pet.

What is the best GPS on the market?

The best GPS device depends on what you need it for. There are many handheld GPS devices for hikers, but these aren’t suitable for businesses or fleet management. Here are some of the best GPS on the market for each type you might need.

Best GPS for fleet managers: Kinesis Pro

Kinesis Pro has one of the biggest GPS vehicle tracking packages on the market. For fleets and bigger businesses, the Pro is exactly what you need.

Many GPS trackers for fleets can be static in their features. They don’t offer a ton of flexibility in terms of the features you can pick and choose. But the Kinesis Pro has 8 extra features that you’re free to add or refuse.

Adding features will add to your price. But at the very least you’re not charged for features you’re not using.

  • Live location data: send updates to your customers and monitor journey times from your laptop, PC, phone and touchpad.
  • In-depth reports: it’s a must-have for fleet managers! The detailed reports from the Kinesis Pro are everything you’ve ever needed to see how your drivers act on the road. If they are idle, break harshly, speed, or more, you’ll know about it.
  • Use alongside your dash cams: want to see what happens on the road? The Kinesis Pro easily combines with your dash cam to get you all the video evidence you need. Fingers crossed you’ll never have to use it, but when you need it the Pro comes in clutch.
Man using GPS tracker on his smart watch outdoors

Best wrist GPS: Garmin Foretrex 601

While hikers have traditionally used handheld GPS, the rise of the wrist-mounted GPS is here. Out of all wrist GPS devices, the Garmin Foretrex is a unique and nifty bit of tech.

Whether you’re out jogging in the city at night or hiking in the mountains, this is a must-have. This device is built to last, to track your progress, and improve your safety.

  • Long battery life: few devices can keep up with the Foretrex. The device lasts 48 hours in navigation mode, which is more than enough for multiple journeys on one charge.
  • Share your location: hiking on your own? Share your walk with a friend using your smartphone. After the trek, share your walk online with your friends and online community.
  • Resistant to damage: some devices can break when dropped. The Foretrex is more damage resistant than you’d expect! The device is resistant to shock, water, and heat.
GPS live location data of vehicles highlighted on a map of busy city roads

Best affordable vehicle tracking GPS: atom

Many GPS trackers for vehicles have to be professionally installed, which can bump up the cost. Most sole traders and small delivery businesses won’t need all the fancy features that fleet managers do.

After digging through the top good value GPS vehicle trackers, we’ve found that atom offers good features at a good price. This device is best for small businesses who need to know where their vehicles are and when they get to their destination.

  • Easy to install: Atom is a self-install vehicle GPS tracking device. You don’t need to be a superstar mechanic to install this one. Just follow the tutorial and, boom, 5 minutes later you’ve got yourself some GPS in your vehicle.
  • Locate your vehicles: see your vehicles live on the web using the tracking system. Send updates to your customers and track driver journeys.
  • Get speeding alerts: atom is one of the top devices at its price point that offers this neat feature. Speeding is a big concern, but for small businesses, a speeding charge can really affect your operations. An accident is the last thing you want. Atom sends you alerts if your driver goes over the limit, so you can keep an eye on driver behaviour.

Can you get GPS trackers for personal use?

Yes. There are GPS trackers out there for every customer type. We’ve even seen dog collars with GPS so you never lose your furry best friend again. Many hikers use GPS to look back on their journeys and share their location.

But GPS is known for its vehicle tracking features above all else. While you can get GPS trackers for personal use, it doesn’t mean you need them. But businesses often need to invest in GPS trackers to improve their operations, driver behaviour, and customer service.

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