Did you know that the Global Positioning System (GPS) has been around since 1973? Now it’s so commonplace that most mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, have GPS integrated into them. People now use GPS for everyday tasks like finding directions, but the police, private investigators, and businesses often use GPS technology to find vehicles, save lives, and track people down.
What Is GPS?
GPS is a navigation system comprised of 24 satellites orbiting the Earth at a geostationary orbit, meaning that the sattelite is always in the same place in the sky. Implemented by the U.S. Department of Defense, GPS was originally only intended for military purposes, but in the 1980s the government made the GPS available for civilian use.
A GPS device tracks your location by receiving the satellite signals and triangulating your position. It can work in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, any time of day. GPS is also passive, meaning it doesn't need to transmit to work, and it is free in the sense that you don't need to pay a service fee to receive GPS signal.
How Is GPS Used?
Today, millions of users rely on GPS to find their way from point A to B, or to track people and vehicles. Drivers use GPS to track and follow the simplest route, and look for detours around traffic. Hikers use GPS to make sure they are following the right route, and to reach way points.
GPS can also be used for emergency services and rescue operations. Rescuers use it to find the accurate location of accidents, and navigate their way to an incident faster. In these cases, having a GPS can make the difference between life and death.
The most common application for GPS is navigation for vehicles, aircraft, and ships as it can work anywhere on earth and is often accurate down to a few feet. The only places it won’t work are in places where it is difficult to receive satellite signals, such as inside buildings, in caves, underwater, etc.
Of course, if the GPS device sends its position out to another device that you control, then you can know exactly where that device is. That's how GPS tracking works.
Tracking Vehicles With GPS
Deciding whether or not to track a vehicle with GPS is not a decision that the police or private investigators take lightly. For police, The Supreme Court decided in 2012 that a warrant is required to plant a GPS on a suspect or person of interest’s car. For private investigators, many states have specific laws preventing the use of GPS trackers.
However, there are circumstances when private investigators can legally put a GPS on someone’s car. In most situations, if the private investigator has the permission of the owner of the car to be tracked, then they can place a tracking device on it. For example, if a husband suspects his wife is cheating on him, a private investigator working for the husband can place a GPS tracking device on a car that the husband owns, but that she drives.
Unless the car title is under his name, neither the husband nor a private investigator can put a GPS on their spouse’s car. In those cases, traditional surveillance would be the most effective method to confirm if she is having an affair.
Tracking Vehicles for Businesses
Tracking cars is not only for people who want to catch their spouse cheating. Businesses install GPS devices in their vehicles to monitor their vehicles, and since the vehicle is their property as the owner of the company, there’s no need for a warrant so long as the vehicle is only used for business purposes and is not considered a 'perk' of the job, like a company provided car that is able to be used for personal purposes.
GPS is beneficial to businesses that rely on trucks to provide products and services to their clients. Tracking vehicles via GPS helps monitor the vehicle fleet, enhance productivity, and reduce fuel costs.
Most GPS devices will also send an alert when the vehicle has turned on or off, has reached a certain speed, or has entered or left an area. The information collected can be used to enforce a driving policy and prevent unsafe driving behavior, improving drivers’ performance.
Productivity in general improves with GPS tracking as it encourages your employees to work more effectively and safely, while not using company trucks for their personal use. In our opinion, if your business relies on trucks GPS is an investment you must have.
Other uses for GPS tracking includes car lots to track inventory, or to recover cars that are to be repossessed.
Need to Use GPS Tracking? Try Trustify
At Trustify, we connect our clients to a network of professional, highly trained, and experienced private investigators. Investigators in our network are not only skilled at the use of devices like GPS trackers, they are also familiar with the law. Simply put, whether by GPS tracking or some other method, they know how to get you the information you need legally and ethically.
Trustify’s technology platform also provides transparency during the investigation and allows direct connection between the client and investigator.