The world of GPS tracking continues to receive much needed replacements for antiquated GPS II-A satellites launched during the 1990′s. On August 1, a United Launch Atlas 5 rocket successfully launched the third of 4 new satellites set to be launched in 2014–all part of a series of twelve new GPS satellites.
The new GPS-IIF satellites, manufactured by Boeing, come with multiple advantages over their 1990′s predecessors, including:
- Improved atomic time signals for more accurate reporting data
- An added signal for civilian use–to be used as a GPS signal for aircraft travel. (This signal is known as L5, which began broadcasting in April)
- Medium-Earth orbit
The newly launched satellite is undergoing a few weeks of testing by the Air Force to assure that it is fully functional before being placed into service.
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According to a 2014 study released by the Yale Law Journal, using GPS tracking for covert tracking operations for law enforcement departments is incredibly less expensive than utilizing officers for covert tracking operations. In fact, the study estimated the cost of GPS tracking to be 1000 times more affordable than tracking vehicles the old fashioned way, with officers trailing behind their target in unmarked vehicles.
In the study, the cost comparisons are dramatic– covert tracking using the standard 5 car surveillance box strategy is estimated to cost $275 dollars per hour, yet the cost of GPS tracking for law enforcement covert tracking can range from just 36-cents to around $5 per hour.
GPS tracking for law enforcement has been described as a “game changer” in the law enforcement community for both its cost effectiveness and the number of vehicles that can be tracked simultaneously.
The study included both cell phone GPS tracking units, and GPS tracking systems mounted to target vehicles.
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Portage Township Schools on the southeast side of Lake Michigan recently installed GPS trackers on all 110 buses in the school’s fleet. Added as a measure of convenience for both parents and administration, the program was given a “test drive” during summer school to prepare for the beginning of the 2014 school year.
Using GPS tracking software on computers or smart phones, parents and faculty are able to see the exact location of any bus at any time–even on field trip days– While the new GPS tracking system will most assuredly offer parents peace of mind that their child made it to school safely, officials also hope it will be an added convenience for parents of children whose buses are running late. With tracking software, parents will have detailed information on when the bus can be expected, hopefully eliminating the need to call the school officials.
School administration also hopes to use the system to conserve fuel and maintain efficiency by rerouting buses when traffic incidents occur.
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You’ve probably seen them in your own community…large metal bins for dropping off clothing donations. As it turns out, not even donations given in good will are exempt from those who rummage through clothing bins in hopes of reselling or keeping the goods. One Baltimore company, that originally thought donations were down, has successfully retrieved stolen goods, and led authorities to recycled clothing thieves with the help of GPS tracking software– and in the process found out that donations weren’t down after all. By placing GPS tracking devices in various clothing items–in pockets, liners, etc., and using GPS tracking software, the company has successfully retrieved several batches of stolen clothing. Company officials use geofencing, a feature of the tracking software to receive cell phone alerts whenever one of their GPS tracking devices leaves the immediate area of the clothing collection bins. The clothing collected by the company is bailed and then shipped to third world countries.
In the wake of the mysterious and tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-370, some may be wondering just how much GPS tracking software plays a role in tracking jets like the Boeing 777 and other aircraft. We ran across a great article by BBC Asia that explains how airplanes are tracked. In short, airplanes do use GPS tracking, but the feature is almost exclusively used only for the purpose of informing the pilot of his or her position, rather than air traffic control. Surprisingly, much of air traffic control remains radar-based, with planes using a primary radar, a secondary radar, and ACARS–a system that transmits computer data from the plane to computers on the ground for the purpose of reporting on the health of the aircraft’s various systems.
Here’s the BBC Asia Article:
The US federal government has recently released funding to aid in purchasing GPS trackers for autistic children at high risk for wandering away and becoming lost. The average cost of GPS tracker for a child ranges from $80-$100 before the addition of data costs/subscriptions for monthly GPS tracking software service.
The release of federal GPS tracking funding comes on the heels of incidents where children have become lost by leaving their homes or their schools. While some children are eventually found unharmed, other incidents have resulted in the deaths of children. Autistic children can be easily sidetracked with curiosity or panic quickly in a new situation. GPS tracking systems do not replace parental supervision but are a valuable extra layer of security when needed.
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Read our latest press release on the LightTrack accessory that works with your GPS tracking device to detect when packages are opened. It’s available only from TrackingTheWorld. Limited number of prototypes available on a first-come-first-served basis!
Here are two of the latest GPS tracking news updates we’ve found around the Web today:
Just when Samsung is making James Bond-ish watches popular again, AT&T has announced it will release a GPS tracking equipped smartwatch for kids which will use geo-fencing to alert parents when a child leaves his or her predetermined safe zone, and will enable parents to see their child’s location at any time provided the child is wearing the tracker. Known as the FiLIP, the GPS tracking device for kids is also capable of voice communication with up to 5 numbers which are preprogrammed by parents. There’s also a panic button that, when pressed for 3 seconds, will cause the device to begin dialing contact numbers.
China to Use GPS Tracking on Government Cars
In an effort to curb abuse by public officials, China will begin installing GPS tracking devices on thousands of government vehicles. The move comes partly in response to criticism for supposed widespread corruption and flamboyant lifestyles among government officials. Guangzhou, a city in southern China, took on a similar project for fleet tracking of government vehicles in 2011. The city now reports that it saves more than $6 million dollars per year due to the GPS tracking systems.
We certainly understand the benefits of GPS tracking devices that are both compact and lightweight. But, do you think it’s possible to build a GPS tracker that’s small enough and light enough to be carried on the back of a bumble bee? Funded by a $500-thousand dollar grant from the Department of Agriculture, Oregon State University is working on the development of GPS trackers to track the movements of bumblebees with the goal of better understanding the dramatic decline of bee populations in recent years. The development of the GPS tracking device for bees will take 1-2 years. Without bee pollination, it is estimated that one-third of the world’s food supply would not exist. Read the full article about GPS tracking and bees.
Where did you come from and where are you going? That’s what Napa County officials want to know, and why they plan to use GPS tracking data to analyze the area’s traffic patterns in hopes of improving congested traffic areas. According to a recent report, the GPS tracking information will be obtained through a private firm specializing in collecting anonymous GPS cell phone data. The study will also utilize photographic images of license plates, and corresponding home addresses which will be obtained through the BMV. Additional components of the study will include traffic counters at the entrances of area wineries, a major tourist attraction in the area, and surveys distributed through the public school system.
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