Your talking GPS is not just for the car any more.
While many people may have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices to help them find a destination, they may not know the crucial and sensitive role GPS technology plays in industries such as fishing and aviation. GPS is changing the face of media and technology, and altering how humans interact with and manipulate their environment.
|GPS technology, used in many industries, relies on
satellites that transmit data to devices on Earth.
Photo courtesy of http://www.gpsmagazine.com
GPS is a network of satellites in space that provides location and time information to any place on earth that allows unobstructed access to four or more GPS satellites. While GPS technology originated for military applications, it is now used by many civilian industries for tracking and mapping purposes. Although it is used primarily by businesses to ultimately increase profits, GPS has raised controversial issues in recent years.
Debate over GPS devices used to track people
In September 2012, Fox reported that Nestle used GPS tracking devices in six candy bars as part of sweepstakes. The devices were designed to alert a control tower of the winners’ locations, and company officials would then board a helicopter to award the lucky winners 10,000 pounds, or $16,145.
Police also use GPS ankle bracelets to track people, mainly criminals on parole, and for people issued a restraining order. One woman told ABC‘s Good Morning America that when police gave her abusive husband a GPS bracelet after he violated his restraining order, it was the first time she felt safe in years.
|Many prisoners on parole are assigned unremovable tracking devices.
Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Corrections
Applications of GPS in aviation and agriculture
While GPS use can be controversial, it is also widely accepted to turn profits in many industries, the aviation industry being one of them. Not only does GPS help navigate a flight path from take-off to landing and reduce previously common accidents by warning of unusual terrain, it also saves time and fuel
. Before, fewer aircraft could fly over data-sparse areas such as oceans, but with GPS, other aircraft can be tracked easily and thus allow more cargo to frequent quieter airways.
|GPS technology in commercial aircraft prevents accidents
and saves time.
Photo courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration
Fishermen utilize GPS to accurately locate fish beds and dense aquatic populations underwater. Using Humminbird Sonar, they save time and increase profits by knowing which fish are located where. The Humminbird also offers weather-watch, and indicates where buoys, birds and other boats are located.
GPS helps the agriculture industry in mapping field boundaries, roads, and problem areas in crops. For example, it allows farmers to map pest and weed infestation, and for small aircraft to spray chemicals where needed. GPS also helps farmers annually navigate to specific field areas to collect soil samples or monitor crop conditions.
GPS satellites contain wildfires, save lives
Perhaps most importantly, GPS has played a critical role in emergency relief
after natural disasters. For nearly every disaster, GPS has offered a method of prediction, prevention and occasionally rescue. Search and rescue teams used GPS, GIS and remote sensing technology after Hurricane Katrina hit to track victims, draw maps for aid operations and assess damage.
To manage forest fires, officials use GPS with infrared scanners to identify hot spots and transmit that data to a portable computer at the firefighters’ camp. This information affords the firefighters a better chance of saving areas that may otherwise have been destroyed.
Recently, GPS has helped predict and identify hotspots in earthquake-prone areas such as the Pacific Rim. Scientists study the strain which the GPS signal transmits, and this information allows them to predict future seismic activity and warn residents at risk.
Meteorologists also use GPS technology to predict and assess floods and storms by analyzing atmospheric water vapor. They can then warn areas of impending storms if transmission signals prove an ominous forecast.
Tracking devices for personal items in future
GPS will likely continue to play a large role in our future, and not just as a tracking device on our iPhones. GPS in commercial industries helps target specific areas that need attention, thereby saving money and time. Emergency response units continue to save lives with the technology, tracking victims and assessing damage and vital aid locations.
In the future, we may be able to put minuscule tracking devices on any item we own, or cheaply analyze the best soils and treatment areas for our backyard vegetable gardens. That day isn’t here yet, but with evolving technology revolving around us, it shouldn’t be too far away.