The Global Positioning System , or GPS for short , is a technology that has become an integral part of our daily lives these days . GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that provides information about geographic position and time to the receiver . This system is available anywhere in the world.
Originally developed for military purposes, the GPS system is now particularly widespread in civilian use . In addition to the question "Where am I?", which can be answered immediately by using it in almost every cell phone , the question "How do I get to my destination?" can also be answered. easy to answer in the car .

How does GPS work?

A total of 32 GPS satellites orbit the earth on precisely defined orbits. These are chosen so that signals from at least 4 satellites can be received at any time. Three of them are needed to determine the longitude, latitude and altitude of the position. The fourth synchronizes the receiver's clock with the satellite's atomic clock. This synchronization is so important because the position is determined via the signal transit time, which is used to calculate the distance to the satellite . The exact position can finally be determined in combination with several satellites using a so-called triangulation.

What are GPS systems used for?

The uses of GPS are almost endless. GPS systems are extremely versatile and present in almost all industries. They are used, among other things, to map areas, help farmers with harvests, or determine aircraft positions on the ground or in the air - to name just a few examples. An important means for the military and emergency services to locate people are appropriate GPS tracking systems . GPS receivers are often used in many areas that we don't normally consider.

The areas of application of GPS can be divided into the following categories:

  1. Location : Determination of a position ( GPS positioning )
  2. Navigation : Getting from one place to another (GPS e.g. in a cell phone, car)
  3. Tracking : monitoring objects or people movements
  4. Timing : worldwide time synchronization

Areas of use of GPS tracking systems

Like the Internet, GPS is an important element of the global information infrastructure . The freely accessible and reliable nature of GPS has led to the development of hundreds of applications that impact every aspect of modern life. GPS technology is now present in almost everything, from cell phones and watches to bulldozers, shipping containers and ATMs.

GPS increases productivity across a wide swath of the economy, including agriculture, construction, mining, surveying, package delivery and logistics management . Large communications networks, banking systems, financial markets, and power grids rely heavily on GPS for precise time synchronization . Some wireless services cannot function without them.

GPS saves lives by preventing transportation accidents, assisting in search and rescue operations, and expediting emergency services and disaster response requests. It also promotes scientific goals such as weather forecasting, earthquake monitoring and environmental protection.

GPS in the cell phone - GPS technology improves the accuracy of location

We all know that the GPS systems that come standard in cars and phones these days are a lifesaver. Today, the use of GPS in cell phones is one of the most advanced methods for tracking people and devices . In conjunction with cell towers, the accuracy of positioning can be improved, which also works well in large urban areas.

Many apps now use the available location data to show users relevant content from the surrounding area or to connect people. This enormous amount of data allows movement patterns to be analyzed and general mobility behavior to be recorded.

GPS in the car - How you can benefit from this GPS system

A GPS receiver can also be integrated directly into vehicles , which has now become standard and brings with it further advantages.
In addition to being used for navigation , it helps fleet managers track their fleet and drivers . Delivery services also benefit from GPS tracking as it can improve their customer service and response times .

Such an integrated GPS system also ensures more safety here . In the event of an emergency call made via the car, the location can be transmitted directly to the control center .
Newer vehicle models, with type approval from April 1, 2018, must also be equipped with the automatic emergency call system “eCall” , which makes an emergency call and transmits the current location in the event of an accident or medical emergency .

What else GPS can do?

GPS has become an important tool for everyday needs, from finding directions to work or school, to getting directions to the nearest restaurant, to using it as a map to explore new places in the city .

Here are some favorite uses of GPS:

  • Navigation on foot or in traffic
  • Detect and avoid traffic disruptions
  • Tracking your own cell phone or your child's cell phone
  • Track stolen devices
  • Prevent theft
  • Tracking for law enforcement
  • Find nearby places

Are there alternatives to the GPS system?

There are now other systems that have been developed as an alternative to the GPS system . The Galileo project, for example, which was carried out by the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA) and was developed as a successor to the American GPS , officially started in 2003. In the final expansion stage , this system has a total of 30 satellites planned, which are distributed over 3 orbits. There are currently 28 satellites in orbit, 22 of which are in operation .

The biggest difference between Galileo and GPS is that it was initially developed primarily for civil and industrial use . In addition, the new system is said to be many times more accurate than the old GPS.


GPS is a technology that is used everywhere in our everyday lives . The GPS system has not only changed the way we use our smartphones , but also how we generally plan and organize our lives .

The technology here is far from exhausted. Galileo , a new generation of positioning satellites , is already nearing completion. The use of GPS will spread to further areas and will be made even more so by the significantly higher accuracy of the Galileo system .

May 24, 2022 — Marcel Wissel