GPS Uses in Everyday Life

    The GPS system was developed to meet military needs of the Department of Defense, but new ways to use its capabilities are continually being found. As you have read, the system has been used in aircraft and ships, but there are many other ways to benefit from GPS. We’ll mention just a few.

    During construction of the tunnel under the English Channel, British and French crews started digging from opposite ends: one from Dover, England, one from Calais, France. They relied on GPS receivers outside the tunnel to check their positions along the way and to make sure they met exactly in the middle. Otherwise, the tunnel might have been crooked.

    Remember the example of the car with a video display in the dashboard? Vehicle tracking is one of the fastest-growing GPS applications. GPS-equipped fleet vehicles, public transportation systems, delivery trucks, and courier services use receivers to monitor their locations at all times.

    GPS is also helping to save lives. Many police, fire, and emergency medical service units are using GPS receivers to determine the police car, fire truck, or ambulance nearest to an emergency, enabling the quickest possible response in life-or-death situations.

    Automobile manufacturers are offering moving-map displays guided by GPS receivers as an option on new vehicles. The displays can be removed and taken into a home to plan a trip. Several Florida rental car companies are demonstrating GPS-equipped vehicles that give directions to drivers on display screens and through synthesized voice instructions. No more getting lost on the way to Disney World!

    Mapping and surveying companies use GPS extensively. In the field of wildlife management, threatened species such as the Mojave Desert tortoise are being fitted with GPS receivers and tiny transmitters to help determine population distribution patterns and possible sources of disease. GPS-equipped balloons are monitoring holes in the ozone layer over the polar regions, and air quality is being monitored using GPS receivers. Buoys tracking major oil spills transmit data using GPS.

    Archaeologists and explorers are using the system. Anyone equipped with a GPS receiver can use it as a reference point to find another location. With a basic knowledge of math and science, plus a hand-held GPS receiver, you could be an instant hero if you and friends got lost on a camping trip.

    The future of GPS is as unlimited as your imagination. New applications will continue to be created as the technology evolves. The GPS satellites, like handmade stars in the sky, will be guiding you well into the 21st century.

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