GPS Tracking Systems Explained

With the growing popularity of GPS, there are many companies offering GPS tracking systems for a wide variety of uses. The Google directory lists over 200 such companies. With many types of systems available, the task of choosing the one that is right for you can be daunting. Combine that with the fact that there is almost no information on the subject on the Internet! one doesn’t even know where to start.

This page briefly tells about some of the many uses of GPS tracking systems:

* Pets
* Wildlife
* Law enforcement
* Theft prevention

Two categories each require their own page. For vehicle tracking information, see GPS Vehicle Tracking. For people-related uses, see GPS Personal Locators.


The technology to use GPS to track your pet is relatively new, so there are not a lot of choices and they can be expensive. Listed here are three examples of different types of GPS tracking systems. All three examples require the user to be in area covered by the GSM cellular network.

The GPS Pet Tracker X5000 by Micro Tech is marketed to owners of dogs and cats. The unit sends its location information over the GSM cellular network and will send SMS messages to 3 phone numbers at intervals of 2 to 120 minutes or the user can call the tracker to get the information. The rechargable battery lasts at least 48 hours. It is 45mm(W) x 66mm(L) x 25mm(H) and weighs 87g (3 ounces) so it can easily be attached to your pet’s collar.

Globalpetfinder is made for dogs 11 pounds and up. Build a geofence of any size within which your pet can freely roam simply. If you pet wanders outside the boundary you have set, you will be alerted and sent the continuously updated, exact location of your pet, to the 2-way wireless device of your choice; cell phone, PDA, computer, etc. It weighs 5 ounces and runs on 3 rechargable AAA NiMH batteries. Purchase requires subscription to a 1 year plan.

The Pointer Dog-GPS by Pointer Positioning Solutions is made primarily for hunting. It consists of two devices – the sender, which is placed on the dog’s harness and the hunter’s map device. The hunter’s unit has GPS also, so the hunter can see her or his position on the map screen as well as the dog’s position. The hunter can even listen to what’s going on at the dog’s location.


GPS tracking systems for most mammals and even for larger birds are now available. Wildlife researchers need to know travel patterns of animals as this is fundamental to study and preservation. Some systems have two-way communication which allows the user to gather data on demand or re-program the device while it is still on the animal. Other features include a drop-off function operated either remotely or at a pre-programmed time delay and some have temperature and mortality sensors as well.

Communication between the animal’s device and the user can be either via satellite or GSM cellular network which allows real-time tracking. Some systems work by the animal’s unit storing position data in its own memory and then is retrieved for data downloading. Most units have a VHF or UHF radio telemetry beacon as an alternative method for tracking.

Law Enforcement

Traditional tailing of a suspect’s vehicle by law enforcement personnel has the disadvantage of the suspect becoming aware that she or he is being followed. With GPS tracking systems, officers can position themselves at a distance just far enough to stay out of sight, yet be close enough to be able to act when necessary. An example of this kind of use is the story of a New York attorney police suspected of drug dealing. Authorities attached a GPS to the suspect’s car (without a court order) and tracked his activity for a month before arresting him.

Another law enforcement use is the recovery of stolen vehicles providing the owner of the stolen vehicle invested in a GPS tracking system. Police also use GPS to monitor the location of persons under house arrest. If that subject leaves the pre-determined area, police are notified and can easily find the offender.

Theft Prevention

These GPS tracking systems work by creating a geofence around a company’s assets such as construction equipment. The system can be activated over the telephone or by computer and the instant the asset travels outside the perimeter an alarm is immediately sent to a dispatch center. Police are notified and the missing equipment is tracked down, often within an hour.

Some of the benefits of theft protection:

* Save money through lower insurance premiums
* Decrease personnel down-time due to stolen equipment
* Meet customer deadlines by ensuring equipment is available when needed
* Peace of mind

Many entries in the Google directory are for commercial users. See the Google Directory for GPS tracking systems.