What are the most commonly used and brilliant GPS applications?
The GPS system was originally devised as a navigation aid for the military but many new applications have since been added to our everyday life. We take some of these for granted and are not even aware of their significance. The following GPS applications are some of the more interesting and commonly used ones.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) provides extremely precise and accurate timing that can be utilised for many economic activities around the globe. Financial networks, communication systems, electrical power systems are some activities relying on precision timing for synchronization and operational efficiency. Since this GPS time is freely available, companies operating these activities are able to achieve significant savings and improve their capabilities.
Using GPS technology even the world’s most impenetrable wilderness can be studied to assess its terrain, wildlife and human infrastructure. This provide crucial information for conservation programs, collection of royalties for mining operations, management of logging in the forests, location of ancient ruins, border delineation and long term strategic planning. For example, the migratory and endangered gorillas of Rwanda are tracked and mapped using GPS which help to preserve and enhance its declining population.
Scientists use the precise information provided by GPS to study earthquake prone areas to predict when the next quake will happen and take precautionary measures.
Balloons equipped with GPS are used to monitor holes in the ozone layer over the polar regions and also the quality of the air.
Construction and survey
GPS technologies are increasingly been used by construction, surveying and mapping companies because of its accuracy which significantly reduce the required amount of equipment and time that translate into profits. A single surveyor can now achieve in one day what used to take weeks by an entire team. Unlike people, GPS is unaffected by the elements of nature, like rain, sun and wind and is always available.
The English Channel was built successfully with help of GPS without which it may have taken a lot longer and more money. Similarly GPS provides great assistance to mining companies to operate safely in tunnels with poor visibility.
GPS provides the precise location of disaster sites, landmarks and buildings and this reduces the time for rescue efforts which is critical in saving lives and assets.
GPS has played significant roles in disaster relief efforts including the tsunamis that hit Japan in March 2011, Indonesia and the region in 2004, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, and the earthquake in Pakistan and India in 2005. With the help of GPS and GIS (Geographic Information System), the search and rescue teams created maps of the disaster areas to assess the damage and then performed rescue and support operations.
GPS is frequently used in the management of wildfires which can cause considerable damages over large areas. To contain and wipe out these forest fires, aircrafts use GPS and infrared scanners to identify the hot spots and boundaries of the fires. Maps are quickly created and communicated to the field camps to help the rescue teams to fight and put out the fires.
GPS can integrate with special systems using computer models to determine information such as temperature, moisture, air and electron densities and in the process increase the accuracy for weather reports.
Large warehousing and logistics companies equipped their fleet of vehicles with GPS to track their movement and locations real-time. With this information they can plan and schedule their deliveries, maintenance of the vehicles as well as the utilization of the drivers efficiently.
Modern farmers and agribusinesses are relying more on new tools developed by GPS system manufacturers. Using these tools the farmers can efficiently map field boundaries, roads, irrigation systems, monitor crop conditions and collection of soil samples. This will help the farmers to enhance their operations and improve productivity. This field data can also be used by aircraft sprayers to accurately swathe the fields, reducing the amount of chemicals needed and further protecting the environment.
The use of GPS increases the safety and efficiency of aviation globally. It offers seamless satellite navigation for all phases of flight from departure, en route, to arrival at points of destinations.
For example, Southwest Airlines recently started using GPS to assist in the landing take off and even taxiing.
New and more flights are possible in route planning, saving time and fuel and increase cargo volumes and revenues.Landings and approaches to airports are improved , even at remote locations where ground facilities are inadequate, thereby greatly increase the operational benefits and safety.
GPS offers the most accurate and fastest way for ships to navigate, calculate speed and determine locations and destinations. This increases safety and efficiency for mariners and changed the way the world operates.
With GPS the ship’s officer know the vessel’s exact position while in big wide ocean and also in crowded waterways and harbors. It makes manoeuvring much easier, minimise accidents and reach its destinations faster, saving time and money.
GPS allows commercial fishermen to track fish migration and locate the best fishing grounds. GPS enable oceanographers and mariners to perform underwater surveying , navigate hazardous locations, and designate buoys at the right places.
GPS coupled with GIS applications are very useful for port operators including major container ports to manage their maritime port facilities. This has significantly reduced the numbers of misplaced and misdirected containers and thereby saving time, effort and other operational costs.
GPS is used to track the real time movement of rail cars, locomotives, maintenance vehicles and other equipment. Combined with
other communications systems, computers and sensors, GPS improves the operational effectiveness, safety and security of the rail system. This helps to reduce accidents, delays, and operating costs, while increasing track and passenger capacities, cost effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
Roads and Highways
Congestion on streets, roads, highways and rapid transit networks cost billions of dollars in term of productivity losses, damage to infrastructures, inefficient fuel consumption, accidents, and air pollution. With the help of GPS and application systems, these problems are drastically reduced.
Geographic Information System (GIS) analyzes, stores and displays geographically referenced information provided by GPS and is used to monitor vehicle location, keeping schedules on time and informing passengers of precise arrival times. Mass Rapid Transit systems use this capability to track bus, rail and other services to improve on-time performance.
GPS is used to survey road and highway networks, by identifying the key of features in the vicinity of the networks. These include emergency services and supplies, entry and exit ramps, service stations, damage to the road system, etc. The information collected helps transportation agencies to reduce service and maintenance costs and also enhances the safety of drivers using the roads and highways.
GPS is changing and revitalizing the way countries operate in space, from the management, tracking, and control of communication
satellite constellations, to the guidance systems for crewed vehicles and monitoring the Earth from space.
GPS helps to analyze the precise timing of an electrical failure as it propagates through a grid, and power companies can trace the exact location of a power line break, thus saving time and effort.
These so called smart bombs depend on GPS to guide, pinpoint and reach targets with an
accuracy of 10 meters. These bombs can be deployed in any weather conditions, even in areas with bad visibility.
Cell Phone Operations
GPS time is used by Telecom operators for the synchronization of cell phone base stations to facilitate inter-cell handoff. This provide a seamless mobile service for cell phone users in a zone with many base stations and different cell phone networks.
Outdoor sport and adventures involve certain risks and unknown factors. You may get lost or went off track in unfamiliar places. GPS will help remove some of these uncertainties and widen the scale and pleasure of outdoor activities. Cross country runners, anglers, hikers, and bicyclists now prefers the convenience of GPS over the traditional paper maps, compasses or landmarks which may be obsolete, changed or inaccurate.
New sports and outdoor activities have also been created by the using the wonder of GPS technology. For example, geocaching is a real world outdoor treasure hunting game in which players locate hidden containers using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. Another interesting game is geodashing in which players use GPS receivers on a playing field that covers the entire globe. The waypoints to be reached are randomly selected and the player who can get to the most waypoints wins. Amazing race indeed !
Other common uses of GPS:
- Keep track of your children or elderly members of your family and even pets so that they don’t wander off
- Plan road trips around interesting points of interest and landmarks, restaurants, gas stations and in the process save fuel
- Get emergency assistance when you car breaks down by providing the exact location
- Find shortcuts and avoid traffic jams
- Track your luggage and other valuable belongings while travelling
- Find your way in crowded environment like street markets, open malls or exhibition areas.
The applications of GPS is as unlimited as your imagination. As technology evolves, new applications will be generated and lives for mankind will continue to improve.