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What is GPS and Why is it Essential?

Posted by Wilmar, Inc.

What is GPS

Technology is woven into our lives to communicate, solve problems and get from point A to point B. If you travel, you likely rely on technology to help get you where you want or need to go on unfamiliar streets or in an unknown city. 

Companies that rely on fleet vehicles for their primary source of revenue consider vehicle selection a necessary process, and GPS plays a vital role in vehicle selection. Before you decide on the right GPS equipment, you need to know what this technology is and how it works. Let's do a deep dive into GPS technology and why it's so important.

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The Global Positioning System (GPS) is used in various formats for numerous functions. One primary use for GPS is in vehicles guiding commuters, travelers, and company drivers where they want to go. It's reliable and able to navigate your journey through a network of satellites and receiving devices that determine the location of objects on Earth. The U.S. Government owns this space-based system, and the United States Air Force (USAF) operates it.

If you've experienced GPS navigation to arrive at a destination, you've noticed the accuracy in bringing you to a friend's front door, taking you to your specified delivery address, or ensuring your arrival at a new doctor's office. There are three segments involved in GPS technology that enables this accuracy. These segments include space, control, and user.

The GPS system and why it's so accurate

1. Satellites (space segment) - refers to 24 up to 31 operational GPS satellites orbiting the Earth twice a day, transmitting radio signals to users or devices. These satellites are strategically placed in a constellation pattern surrounding the Earth in six equally-spaced orbital planes. It might help to think of the satellites as a tape measure calculating the distance and location of an object on Earth from the satellites based on their distance from that object. For the satellite system to work, we need to know where they are and where they are supposed to be at any given time, which is where the next segment comes into play.

2. Ground (control segment) -ground facilities monitor satellite transmissions, complete analyses, command the satellites, and send data to the constellation. The GPS satellites are monitored and controlled through a network of ground facilities that includes a master station, a backup master station, and 16 transmission monitoring sites. Eleven command and control antennas complete the network. 

3. Receivers (user segment) -user cars or phones act as receivers of GPS satellite transmissions, constantly listening for satellite signals and calculating the distance from several satellites in the constellation. The receiver measures how long it takes for a signal as a radio wave to arrive, then calculates the distance from at least four satellites to determine its location. The receiver computes the distance from each satellite based on time measurements. Radio waves travel at a constant speed, allowing the receiver to use time measurements to calculate its distance from each satellite.

GPS Technology and fleet vehicle management 

GPS technology is ingrained in our daily lives down to our daily transportation, such as driving to work or for work, as in the distribution of the food, equipment, or other goods upon which we rely. The ability to determine the location of places for either personal or professional reasons is essential. Now that you have a deeper understanding of GPS technology, you can make more informed decisions about your fleet of vehicles.

Wilmar knows fleet vehicle management. Purchasing or leasing the right vehicles can help cut costs, address driver needs and help reduce mileage. Contact a Wilmar representative to discuss vehicle management.

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Topics: Fleet Management, Fleet Tracking, Misc


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