Mobile Tracking and Consulting services would like to share some interesting information about a new satellite that will improve our industry.
Behind the GPS Curtain – New Satellite Improves GPS Technology:
The technology behind the Global Positioning System, or GPS, recently received an upgrade courtesy of the United States Air Force that has improved the system’s accuracy from about 1 meter to within 42 centimeters. After the launch of a new $131 million satellite, designed to take the place of an older satellite, GPS technology will see improvements in both military and civilian applications. Occasionally, GPS Insight is asked to talk about the core technology that helps fleets track their vehicles. It all starts with GPS. This blog will peel back the curtain on just how GPS works, some history about the program, who administers the system and ultimately how the technology is used to track your fleet.
To put it simply, GPS technology is all based on math. Yes, that dreaded thing we all vowed to forget the moment we stepped off school grounds, math. There are currently 31 satellites orbiting around our planet with incredibly accurate and synchronized atomic clocks, all continuously broadcasting their position and time. The GPS receiver embedded in your cell phone, just as the receiver installed in the vehicles tracked by GPS Insight, collect these satellite broadcasts and calculate the position and time of the receiver, providing you with the current location of that device. In the past, the cost of this type of receiver was an incredible barrier of entry into GPS tracking. Modern technology allows these receivers to calculate its position in a near instant and in turn provide you with the critical information you need in a very cost-effective manner.
The history of GPS, as with many technologies, has its roots in military applications, this one dating back to the 1960s. Where GPS technology first began to see use in our day to day lives was in the early 1980s after a commercial airliner leaving Korea accidentally drifted into prohibited Soviet airspace due to miscalculated positioning. The airliner was subsequently shot down, causing an international uproar. As a result, the United States opened up GPS for the world to use as a common good in the hopes of avoiding similar incidents. Satellite positioning greatly improved accuracy for commercial airliners in the years since and other industries soon took advantage of the open technology. Prior to the year 2000, GPS signals had been purposely degraded by the military for civilian use. Eventually, lobbying from other government organizations and large transportation companies convinced the executive branch to provide equal signal accuracy to both the military and civilians. Today, the GPS signal you receive on your cell phone, your fleet vehicle’s tracking device, your car’s navigation system, all arrive at the same quality and accuracy as the military.
That being said, the military, specifically the United States Air Force, still controls the overall administration of the Global Positioning System. Over the last few decades, the Air Force has launched increasingly improved satellites to expand the GPS program. From 1997 through 2016, the Air Force deployed all 31 currently operational satellites, replacing 38 aging orbiters from years past. The latest satellite, launched on February 5, 2016, completes the current block of orbiters and signifies a transition into the next phase of improved technology. Below is a video of the most recent launch.
Today, over 4 billion devices worldwide rely on GPS technology to provide near-instant positioning information. GPS Insight provides its customers with fleet tracking tools to distill positioning information, as well as other diagnostic information, to improve overall operations. As GPS technology improves, our data improves and our customers are the ones who ultimately benefit.
Source: GPS Insight. Author: Robert Dennis. Marketing Programs Manager. April 6th, 2016.