Global Positioning System

The applications of the Global Positioning System fall into five categories: location, navigation, timing, mapping, and tracking. Each category contains uses for the military, industry, transportation, recreation and science.


This category is for position determination and is the most obvious use of the Global Positioning System. GPS is the first system that can give accurate and precise measurements anytime, anywhere and under any weather conditions. Some examples of applications within this category are:

  • Measuring the movement of volcanoes and glaciers.
  • Measuring the growth of mountains.
  • Measuring the location of icebergs - this is very valuable to ship captains helping them to avoid possible disasters.
  • Storing the location of where you were - most GPS receivers on the market will allow you to record a certain location. This allows you to find it again with minimal effort and would prove useful in a hard to navigate place such as a dense forest.

Navigation is the process of getting from one location to another. This was the what the Global Positioning System was designed for. The GPS system allows us to navigate on water, air, or land. It allows planes to land in the middle of mountains and helps medical evacuation helicopters save precious time by taking the best route.

GPS brings precise timing to the us all. Each satellite is equipped with an extremely precise atomic clock. This is why we can all synchronize our watches so well and make sure international events are actually happening at the same time.

This is used for creating maps by recording a series of locations. The best example is surveying where the DGPS technique is applied but with a twist. Instead of making error corrections in real time, both the stationary and moving receivers calculate their positions using the satellite signals. When the roving receiver is through making measurements, it then takes them back to the ground station which has already calculated the errors for each moment in time. At this time, the accurate measurements are obtained.

The applications in this category are ways of monitoring people and things such as packages. This has been used along with wireless communications to keep track of some criminals. The suspect agrees to keep a GPS receiver and transmitting device with him at all times. If he goes where he's not allowed to, the authorities will be notified. This can also be used to track animals.

Many applications use a combination of the above categories. The following is a list of some additional areas where the global positioning service is being applied:

  • Precision farming.
  • Open-pit mining.
  • Oil exploration.
  • Airport and harbor approaches.
  • Animal migration and population studies.
  • vehicle tracking.
  • Construction - tunnels, golf courses, roads, etc.
  • Emergency services - the closest ambulance or fire truck is sent to an emergency, thereby saving time.
  • Atmospheric studies - ozone layer, air quality, etc.
  • Archaeological explorations.
  • Recreational activities - camping, boating, etc.
  • Astronomical telescope pointing.
  • Networking - speed is increased, the Internet is highly synchronized because of GPS.
  • Aiding the blind.

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