What Are the Advantages of GPS?
By Shailynn Krow
Historically, military technology finds its way into the civilian marketplace over time. Many gadgets used today were once unavailable for purchase, and GPS devices arrived in the consumer market in the same way. Military operations aside, owning a device that uses GPS can be useful. GPS works by providing a set of coordinates that indicate a person or device’s location in relation to its elevation, longitude and latitude on the planet.
A device taking advantage of GPS is equipped with maps and locations from around the world. Smartphones and tablet PCs are able to pinpoint a location and provide accurate step-by-step directions from Point A to Point B. If you make a wrong turn, devices like these will provide an updated route based on your new location. They can save you a considerable amount of time navigating foreign areas, finding a local restaurant or locating the nearest emergency service facility.
Devices that use GPS receive real-time updates, allowing them to monitor traffic and re-direct you to a faster, more efficient route. In some instances, it can provide you with traffic flow information so you can assess for yourself whether a specific route is worth the expected traffic. Both TomTom and Garmin produce models that feature frequently updated traffic information. Models that include the letter T in their names are generally receiving traffic updates.
Law enforcement is finding numerous uses for GPS technology. Some law enforcement agencies have used GPS devices to monitor vehicles and individuals suspected of a criminal or terrorist activity. By doing so, law enforcement officials have prevented heinous crimes and caught criminals that would have otherwise gotten away.
According to the Congressional Research Service, law enforcement used GPS to catch a convicted rapist who had served 17 years in prison. The man was a suspect in 11 attacks on women in Virginia over a six-month period, and authorities attached a GPS device to his van.
"By tracking his movements with the device, police were able to intercept him in Falls Church, VA, where he was dragging a woman to a remote area, according to the report."
The ability to stop criminals in their tracks, before further crime is committed, makes GPS technology valuable to law enforcement officers.
During a tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster, emergency services and law enforcement officials need to find stranded motorists. GPS technology provides tracking information and helps predict the natural disaster’s damage severity for emergency relief. With GPS, ambulances and law enforcement officers track and locate victims of natural disasters quickly and efficiently.
Construction and Development
Before construction and development can begin, land surveying must be completed. This is costly and time-consuming and requires a variety of individuals. The GPS has slowly replaced traditional land surveying techniques with the Federal Highway Administration for more accurate surveying. By using GPS, companies have reduced labor costs and increased accuracy and survey an area in a matter of a few hours – rather than days.
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration: Global Positioning System (GPS) Surveying
- Congressional Research Service: Law Enforcement Use of Global Positioning (GPS) Devices to Monitor Motor Vehicles -- Fourth Amendment Considerations
- University of New South Wales: The Many Benefits and Applications of GPS Systems
Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.