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A Global Positioning System Information Technology Essay

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of 24 Navstar satellites orbiting Earth at 11,000 miles. Originally established by the U.S. Department of Defence (DOD) at a cost of about US$13 billion, access to GPS is free to all users, including those in other countries. The system of positioning and timing data are used for a variety of applications, including air, land and sea navigation, vehicle and vessel tracking, surveying and mapping, and asset and natural resource management. With military accuracy restrictions partially lifted in March 1996 and fully lifted in May 2000, GPS can now pinpoint the location of objects as small as a penny anywhere on the earth surface.

How GPS work

GPS provides specially coded satellite signals that can be processed in a GPS receiver, enabling the receiver to compute position, velocity and time. Basically GPS works by using four GPS satellite signals to compute positions in three dimensions (and the time offset) in the receiver clock. So by very accurately measuring our distance from these satellites a user can triangulate their position anywhere on earth.

Daily Functions of GPS

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GPS technology has matured into a resource that goes far beyond its original design goals. These days' people from a plethora of professions are using GPS in ways that make their work more productive, safer, and sometimes even easier. There are five main uses of GPS today:

Location- determining a basic position.

Navigation - getting from one location to another.

Tracking - monitoring the movement of people and things.

Mapping- creating maps.

Timing - providing precise timing.


The first and most obvious application of any Location Based Services such as GPS is the simple determination of a "position" or location. GPS was the first positioning system to offer highly precise location data for any point on the planet, in any weather. Knowing the precise location of something, or someone, is especially critical when the consequences of inaccurate data are measured in human terms.


GPS helps you determine exactly where you are, but sometimes it is more necessary to know how to get somewhere else. Recall that GPS was originally designed to provide navigation information for ships and planes. So it's no surprise that while this technology is appropriate for navigating on water, it's also very useful in the air and on the land.


GPS used in conjunction with communication links and computers can provide the backbone for systems tailored to applications in agriculture, mass transit, urban delivery, public safety, and vessel and vehicle tracking. Therefore, more and more   police, ambulance, and fire departments are adopting systems like GPS-based AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) Manager to pinpoint both the location of the emergency and the location of the nearest response vehicle on a computer map. With this kind of clear visual picture of the situation, dispatchers can react immediately and effectively.


Mapping the planet has never been an easy task, but GPS today is being used to survey and map it precisely, saving time and money in this most stringent of all applications. GPS can help generate maps and models of everything in the world, mountains, sea, rivers, and cities and help manage endangered animals, archaeological treasures, precious minerals and all sorts of resources, as well as accurately managing the effect of damage and disasters.

    For example peace brokers used GPS generated maps to determine the partitions of Bosnia under the Dayton Peace Accord, and GPS was used to map Cambodia accurately for the UN stabilization force introduced after the civil war ended in 1993. In fact large tracks of Cambodia had never been mapped at all, due to inhospitable terrain and low population density. GPS solved this in weeks, whereas it would have taken months prior to the introduction of GPS.


    GPS can also be used to determine precise time, time intervals, and frequency. There are three fundamental ways we use time:

As a universal marker,

As a way to synchronize

To provide an accurate, unambiguous sense of duration.

    As discussed before, GPS satellites carry highly accurate atomic clocks. And in order for the system to work, GPS receivers here on the ground synchronize themselves to these clocks. That means that every GPS receiver is, in essence, an atomic accuracy clock. Astronomers, power companies, computer networks, communications systems, banks, and radio and television stations can benefit from this precise timing.

Who Use GPS in Majority

Although the GPS system was completed only in 1994, it has already proved to be a valuable aid to U.S. military forces. Without a reliable navigation system, U.S. forces could not have performed the maneuvers of Operation Desert Storm. With GPS the soldiers were able to go places and maneuver in sandstorms or at night. GPS has become important for nearly all military operations and weapons systems. It is also used on satellites to obtain highly accurate orbit data and to control spacecraft orientation.

Besides, at sea, GPS is also typically used for navigation by recreational boaters, commercial fishermen, and professional mariners. At land, the scientific community uses GPS for its precision timing capability and position information. Surveyors use GPS for an increasing portion of their work. Recreational uses of GPS are almost as varied as the number of recreational sports available. GPS is popular among hikers, hunters, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers etc. GPS is utilized by anyone who needs to keep track of where he or she is, to find his or her way to a specified location, or know what direction and how fast he or she is going.

The recent major developments associated with GPS

GPS in cars

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The car navigation is a new technology developed recently. As a kind of hi-tech product combining GIS, positioning, communication and embedded software and hardware technology, car GPS navigation has achieved great success and gain many benefits in Japan, Europe and America after years' development.

Nowadays, there were a lot of the cars has built-in GPS system which called as dash mountable GPS systems. It is attached to the dash board of a vehicle. Dash mountable GPS has a bigger size display and nice capabilities and functions. A GPS car tracking device can tell you the speed driven, the destinations drove and even the amount of the time it took between point A and point B. As a boss, you can be sure your employees are actually staying on track, driving safe speeds and if they ever have problems you will be able to locate them. If you get lose yourself, you can use GPS to track the directions on how to get where you need to go or home. If user were in an accident, his family could find him quicker.

Besides of this, the recent development of GPS which is also known as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) has been featured by the elevation maps technology. The elevation maps are able to detect the figure of geographical land with its various texture and shapes. Off-road car drivers take lots of benefits from using such technology to support their adventure through hard circuit area. The 3 Dimension mapping systems present accurate description approaching the real conditions of the land. Therefore, individual racers will not be difficult to lead their driving while at the same time monitoring the exact position of their car on a certain part of the earth.

Portable GPS

The portable GPS can also be used in car. This type of GPS has the equally nice capabilities and functions as that of the dash mountable GPS system. It is great for the consumer who may use the system for other purposes such as tracking their routes when taking part in sporting activities such as jogging, hiking or even boating.

The portable units are also great for the consumer who may have more than one vehicle and may want to use it in each of the vehicles he/she owns or if he/she is sharing the GPS system with another member of the family. The main selling feature of the portable GPS systems is the fact that they are mobile and are easy to move from place to place.

GPS in mobile phones

Nearly all new phone models are given built in GPS receiving capabilities. Using GPS signals, people get to use these phones to analyze and determine their location. Along with its phone utilities, this makes transmission of a person's location during emergency cases easier.

There are many reasons why you should activate GPS on your phone. For one thing, it assists location tracking. In many ways, GPS phone applications allow it to work as a tracking device, making it easy to track the whereabouts of employees or family members. Company issued GPS phone enable it to remotely monitor segments of their operations. By keeping track of the GPS coordinates of the people carrying the phone, employers and supervisors get to monitor the activities of their man power. This feature is also useful in safeguarding children and elderly people. While GPS phone doubles as tracking devices, they will keep family members from being lost.

Besides, you can get to use maps and get accurate turn by turn directions on how to get to your destination while still able to make and receive calls. This service also give you access to digital map databases, making it easier and safer for you to travel over any country or continent. GPS can increases the safety on your occasional hiking, mountain biking, sailing, geocaching and other outdoor activities.

GPS in watches

The creation of GPS watches has the additional function approximately to the GPS function in the phones. GPS watch has expanded the practical applications of this technology to the improvement of health and overall quality of life.

Commercial Development Parameters for technology of Global Positioning System (GPS)

Demand Factors

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The main demand factor for the GPS is to locate your exact position on the global at anytime, anywhere, and in any weather with the accuracy necessary to avoid tragedy. After that, people have developed to a variety of ways to figure out their position on earth and to navigate people to reach their intended destinations. The other demand factors are as follow:

People want to find the perfect fishing or hunting spot and not been able to remember how to get back to it easily.

You can use hand held GPS system to find out where your children with the help of some special services provided.

You can also check where the elder members of the family are if they go alone to a strange place.

You can easily find out the widely popular points of interests like campsites, restaurants, petrol bunks, hospitals, parking areas, tourists spots etc.

Sometimes you may need some road side assistance when you are in some emergency. You can get help easily from your GPS device just with a simple touch of a button. You will get complete details about where you are with your car with address.

You can reinstall your GPS software by updating the data. It is simple to have a visual magazine or book collection of your most favourite hot spots. You may not get those details from your travel guide.

It is easy to find out your pet using a collar if it goes astray, with the support of the GPS device.

This device offers you various short cuts to reach your destinations faster.

It is easy to track your things like laptops, bags, mobile phone when you travel along with them.

You can trace out your friends or relatives when stand in the midst of big crowd or gatherings by having a GPS system.

General Constraint

In general, GPS is dividing to three parts which are space segment, user segment and the control segment. The space segment are consists of 24 satellites (21 active plus 3 operating spares) which in each own orbits 11,000 nautical miles above the Earth. However, the user segment consists of receiver which can hold in your hand or mount in your car. Besides that, the control segment consists of five ground stations which are located around the world that make sure the satellites are working properly.

One orbit is equal one trip around the Earth in space. Each GPS satellites are travelling at speeds of 7000 miles an hour, hence it take around 12 hours to travel one orbit of the Earth. The satellites are powered by solar energy and are built to last about 10 years. If the solar energy fails, the satellites have backup batteries on board to keep them running. Each satellite is equipped with an accurate clock to let it broadcast signals coupled with a precise time message. Then, the ground unit receives the satellite signal which is travels at the speed of light. But even at the speed of light, the signal still needs to takes a measurable amount of time to reach the receiver. To calculate the distance between the receiver and the satellite, used the difference between the time of the signal sent and the time of it received, multiplied by the speed of light. The receiver measures the time used for received signals from four separate satellites to measure precise latitude, longitude, and altitude.

The GPS system can measure any location on or above the Earth to within 300 feet. Even the greater accuracy, the location within less than three feet also can be obtained with corrections calculated by a GPS receiver at a known fixed location.

Space segment

The complete GPS space system to go around the Earth one orbit includes 24 satellites, 11,000 nautical miles above the Earth, it will take 12 hours. They are positioned so that we can receive signals from six of them nearly 100 percent of the time at any point on Earth. You need that many signals to get the best position information. Satellites have very precise clocks that keep accurate time to within three nanoseconds (0.000000003s). This precise clock is very important because the receiver must know the exactly time takes for its signal to get to each satellite and return back to receiver to calculate the exactly position of the receiver.

The 24-satellite constellation orbits 11,000 nautical miles above Earth. Each satellite completes its orbit every 12 hours. This diagram gives you an idea of satellite positions and is not to scale.

Control Segment

The GPS ground control segment consists of unmanned monitor stations located around the world. The master ground station with four large ground antenna stations that broadcast signals to the satellites is located in Falcon Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The stations also track and monitor the GPS satellites.

Receiver Segment

GPS receivers can be hand carried or installed on aircraft, ships, tanks, submarines, cars, and trucks. These receivers detect, decode, and process GPS satellite signals. More than 100 different receiver models are already in use. The typical hand-held receiver is about the size of a cellular telephone, and the newer models are even smaller. The hand-held units distributed to U.S. armed forces personnel during the Persian Gulf war weighed only 28 ounces.

GPS is used by surveyors, utility companies, and oil and gas explorers for precise positioning.

Regulatory Factors

GPS system is works in six logical steps which are:

Basis of GPS is triangulation from satellites.

GPS receiver measures distance using the travel time of radio signals.

GPS needs very accurate timing which it achieves with some tricks to measure travel time.

Along with distance, you need to know exactly where the satellites are in space. High orbits and careful monitoring are the secret.

You must correct for any delays the signal experiences as it travels through the atmosphere.

Obtain the precise time from the GPS satellites.


We need four satellite ranges to determine exact position which is calculated from distance measurements (ranges) to satellites. Actually, three satellites ranges are enough to determine the exact position if we reject ridiculous answers or use other tricks.

Actually, when we measure our distance from a satellite, we will get the result of around 10,000 miles. Hence, we know that we're 10,000 miles from a particular satellite narrows down all the possible locations we could be in the whole universe to the surface of a sphere that is centre on this satellite and has a radius of 10,000 miles. Next, we measure our distance to a second satellite and find out that it's 11,000 miles away. Hence, we're not only on the first sphere but we're also on a sphere that's 11,000 miles from the second satellite. Or in other words, we're somewhere on the circle where these two spheres intersected. If we then make a measurement from a third satellite and find that we're 12,000 miles that narrows our position down even further, to the two points where the 12,000 mile sphere cuts through the circle that's the intersection of the first two spheres. So by ranging from three satellites we can narrow our position to just two points in space.  To decide which one is our true location we could make a fourth measurement. But usually one of the two points is a ridiculous answer and can be rejected without a measurement.

two possible locations

The distance between from the position to the satellites is 10k miles, 11k miles and 12k miles, the exact position is the intersection of three distance range from satellite.

Measuring Distance

The distance between the receivers with the satellite is determined by measuring the time taken by radio signal to reach receiver from the satellite. We need to assume that both satellite and receiver are generating same pseudo-random code at the exactly same time to make the measurement. To determine the time taken for the radio signal to reach receiver, we compare the delay time of the satellite's pseudo-random code appears with the receiver's pseudo-random code appears. Then, multiply the travel time by the speed of light to calculate the distance.


Accuracy of the timing is the key to measuring distance to the satellite. The satellites are very accurate because the satellites have atomic clocks on board. However the clocks of the receivers no need to be too accurate because an extra satellite range measurement can remove the errors.

Satellite Tracking

The exactly position of the satellite in the space is needed when used satellite as references for range measurements. The GPS satellites are high up their orbits are very predictable. The Department of Defence are used to measure the minor variations in the orbits. The error information is send to the satellites to be transmitted along together with the timing signals.

Handling Errors

The delays in the GPS signal that translate into position error are cause by the Earth's ionosphere and atmosphere. By using mathematics and modelling, we can factor out the errors. The other errors can be magnifying by the configuration of the satellites in the sky. As the conclusion, almost all the error can be eliminate by using differential GPS.

Time Keeping

GPS system is a almost perfect system for navigation, tracking, and mapping. It's also used to disseminate precise time, time intervals, and frequency. GPS satellites carry highly accurate atomic clocks. And in order for the system to work, our GPS receivers here on the ground synchronize themselves to these clocks. That means that every GPS receiver is, in essence, an atomic accuracy clock.

Global Positioning System (GPS) is important for Malaysia to developed

As the world become globally expose to more open information, global positioning system (GPS) become more and more important. Therefore, government should focus on this factor in order to become advance country in fact of technology and development.

Why Global Positioning System (GPS) is important to Malaysia?

First of all, the Global Positioning System is experts on the subject of positioning are well aware that GPS has been in existence for quite a while and that it is in the midst of a modernization phase while it continues to perform flawlessly. This is a new and better technology on the ground and in space as well as requirements for the system to function as a dual-use technology for civilians or military to drive the modernization of Malaysia.

The expert says that Malaysia incorporate the latest technology will also increase the need for GPS to be modernized to stay competitive. For example, by using GPS the surveyors use absolute locations for making maps and all the boundaries. The entire map making by using GPS is extensive accurate. Besides that, the navigation value by using GPS which digitally precise velocity is used in most of the transport nowadays.

Moreover, GPS is one of the advance technologies that can use in cellular telephony as an clock synchronization enables time transfer which is synchronizing its spreading codes with other base stations in order to facilitate the inter-cell handoff and support hybrid GPS detection for mobile emergency calls and more applications.

Besides that, GPS is also important for Malaysia because the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) are also one of the GPS systems that becoming a global utility used in various applications. A wide variety of applications are strongly dependent on GNSS applications including land, air, sea and space navigation, positioning, surveying and mapping, military, personal location and location-based services (LBS), and etc. Depending on the type of GNSS receivers used and the procedures followed, GNSS technology could be used to provide information of the location with high accuracy. Therefore, numerous tests and calibration procedures on GNSS receivers and more and more researches are carried out nowadays to ensure the collection data by GNSS receivers providing a better level position accuracy whatever in all conditions and environments. For example, Mobile test, Simulation test and GPS Integration test.

Moreover, the GPS technology has shown that it is capable to monitor sub-centimeter deformations of this ground movement. The main advantage of GPS sensors compared to conventional deformation monitoring sensors is that GPS requires no line-of-sight between the stations. This enables GPS to monitor the landslides even during unfavorable weather conditions either in real time or post-processing mode. To monitor the landslide phenomena, it is imposed to represent the area under investigation by a number of points that are monumental durably. Some stations are used to define a stable reference frame and the remaining stations are the monitoring points situated in the deformation area.

A landslide phenomenon is one of the terms to be used in describing the down-slope of soil, rock and organic material under the influence of gravity by using the GPS technology. Three phases Landslide studies can be organized that is detection and classification of landslides; monitoring activity of existing landslides; analysis and prediction of slope failures in space and time. The second stage in a landslide study is typically monitoring the movement of a landslide. This involves the comparison of landslide conditions over time, including the aerial extent of the landslide, the speed of movement and the change in the surface topography. By using the geotechnical methods or GPS technology, the direction and magnitude of the slide with the boundary of the landslide block can be determined.

Therefore, GPS is a very useful tool to be utilized for a wide range of scientific applications. This technology increases the accuracy, productivity, monitoring capability, rapidity and economy with respect to size of the study area and it is often better than classical geodetic survey techniques for Malaysia to develop.

The Major Players of Technology GPS

Businessman is one of the major user of technology GPS. As we all know, direction is important for a businessman, because they need to meet some clients in different places or even country, and etc. GPS is also known as Global Positioning System, is a system that is based on global navigation satellite; it allows businessmen to figure out their current location and target location on the surface of the earth. The GPS is commonly use in modern city such as Kuala Lumpur; this is because Kuala Lumpur's roads are always changing. One might remember this route to their work place, but next week, the route might have changed. Even for resident who has been staying in Kuala Lumpur for years, they might get confuse or mistaken sometimes, not to mention now that a businessman who is unfamiliar with the road in Kuala Lumpur. For example, if a businessman is going to meet his client at a place that he has never been before, he is going to struggle finding the place without guidance. Besides, if he accidentally lost in the middle of nowhere, GPS comes in handy at that time.

Other than that, GPS is commonly equipped on the cars, for this case, it is use to enable the businessman to detect or locate where his employees are at all times. For example, if there is any customer complains about late delivery of goods, as we all know, Kuala Lumpur is a busy city where jams happen almost every street, the businessman will be able to track the exact location of the goods, inform the employee who is doing the delivery job and confirm back the estimated time to the customers.

Besides businessman, deliveryman is also one of the major user of technology GPS. In a modern country like US or UK, deliveryman uses GPS to deliver goods such as daily item purchased through internet from one place to another place that they are not so familiar with. Besides, even though, the deliveryman live in that city, it does not mean that he knows all the road or building in that particular city, Once the deliveryman drives in the wrong direction, he will have a hard time wondering his way out, therefore GPS can at least prevent them from getting lost, stranded on the road and does not even know their exact location. Furthermore, the development of the GPS is so great that it enable users to observe their speed and fuel consumption, so that they will be more careful so that they would not drive over the limit. For example, if a deliveryman drives too fast and reaches a preset speed, an alert will be sent to his cellular phone and email to warn and prevent him from tragedy.


As a conclusion, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are space-based global navigation satellite system that provides time, three-dimension (3D) position and velocity information to users anywhere on the surface of the earth. These systems are going to change our lives in many ways and by combining GPS with current and future computer mapping techniques, this will make us better in identify and manage our natural resources.

Nowadays the technology of GPS is making a huge impact in the society, the GPS hardware and software are becoming more and more powerful and the application can be use on GPS is increasing. Even though the cost of the product is dropping, this does not reduce the increasing number of application being created for the product. Furthermore, the GPS equipment manufacturers try to make their products as simple as possible, because new users are unfamiliar with the product. Proper care must be taken to ensure the correct use of GPS.

As with many technological developments, GPS tracking was first used by the military to find targets and to navigate. Recently, the cost of GPS systems has decreased and the military has suspended degradations to the signals, thereby making GPS tracking systems available for civilians to utilize. As we all know, there are many important benefits to consider when using GPS. It is helpful when trying to navigate in unfamiliar areas, but some people has a different opinion about that which they think it is an invasion of privacy. Since privacy has become an issue, security and privacy issues have been openly debated, and most citizen or user believes that it brings more benefit than harm.

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