GPS tracking technology has become a vital component of modern transportation systems. It works by using the Global Positioning System (GPS) to precisely determine the direction, location, and speed of moving vehicles. The system was initially designed by the Department of Defence in the United States, and the United States Navy carried out the first experiment. With the ending of the Cold War, GPS technology has been made available for civil use and has found its utility in smartphones, navigation systems, and tracking devices.
The transportation system has seen a huge improvement in many ways ever since the employment of GPS-tracking technology. Its impact on efficiency is the most fundamental advantage, where fleet managers are able to enhance routes and make educated decisions about vehicle allocation. This has resulted not only in low fuel consumption but also in reduced operational costs. It has also contributed to road safety, and by monitoring the speed and driver’s behavior, it has made the early detection of potential accidents possible. One can also say that it has prevented reckless driving, and given an opportunity to fleet managers to intervene in time. Operational effectiveness in transportation is another outcome of GPS tracking technology, where businesses are able to provide customers with real-time route updates., resulting in satisfaction and better planning on both ends.
The global transportation industry is bearing a considerable impact on the evolution of GPS technology. With time, as GPS has become more precise and reliable, it has replaced traditional navigation methods, like maps and compasses. This was made possible when in 1996, US President Bill Clinton announced a policy directive to make GPS freely available for use worldwide. The transportation industry was quick to pick up on it, and today, GPS tracking is integrated into almost all modes of transportation, including but not limited to cars, trucks, ships, and airplanes. An annual report by the US Department of Transportation states that over 95% of large commercial trucks and about 46% of small commercial trucks use GPS technology.
But the development was not limited to the United States only, and following its footprints, the European Space Agency (ESA) designed and developed its own satellite navigation system. It was named after the famous scientist Galileo, and ever since its inception in 2005, Galileo has provided reliable and precise positioning information to users. In 2015, the European Commission made it mandatory for all new vehicles sold in Europe to be equipped with a GPS tracking system. It was also integrated into public transportation systems. By 2020, it had an estimated market value of 90 billion euros in Europe. This is itself a testimony of the transportation system’s wider use of GPS tracking technology.
To provide real-time location date, GPS tracking has taken up a vital role in the transportation sector. As a result, transportation companies are able to track their vehicles and services with utmost accuracy and efficiency. The three key applications of GPS tracking in transportation that have made the industry more progressive and reliable are the following:
- Passenger Tracking: Starting with the equipment of vehicles with GPS tracking devices, transportation companies are now able to monitor not only the location but also the movement of their fleet in real time. This has made it possible to estimate the arrival times and duration of the journey precisely. Importantly, this has allowed for more safety, making the journey secure. In an unfortunate event of emergencies, and particularly accidents, the location can quickly be traced, and aid provided in due time. To ensure the comfort and safety of passengers, especially on buses and trains, it has also enabled to prevent the overcrowding.
- Schedule Adherence: Another benefit of GPS tracking technology in transportation is schedule adherence. Transport companies are now able to manage their schedule based on real-time location data. Tracking delays, identifying bottleneck routes, and adjusting the arrival times have improved the overall service efficiency, which has made it more convenient for the customers, reducing longer wait durations.
- Safety Enhancement: Safety in the transportation system has always been a core issue, but with GPS tracking technology, identifying potential hazards on routes and making necessary changes beforehand has increased the level of safety to a greater level. This has also led to real-time communication between the operators and drivers, enabling instant response in case of emergencies.
The introduction of GPS tracking in the transportation sector has had an impact on fuel reduction, too. Whether it’s diesel for trucks or jet fuel for airlines, fuel has always made up the biggest expense for transportation companies. As a result of providing accurate traffic data and congested routes, companies are now able to choose alternate paths, which are less time-consuming and more fuel-efficient. Predictive maintenance is another aspect that has been made possible due to the GPS technology. Companies are now able to implement predictive maintenance due to the sensors installed in vehicles to monitor their performance and send real-time updates. This has resulted in the prevention of inefficient maintenance schedules and unnecessary expenses.
One such example is Uber. Uber is a multinational ride-hailing app that has transformed the transportation industry with its successful implementation of GPS tracking technology. The technology is used to accurately match riders with drivers and provide real-time tracking of location during the ride. It has not only made it easy for users to book and track their rides but also made the drivers optimize the routes to reduce travel times and increase efficiency. The successful integration and implementation of the GPS tracking system has made the company one of the most successful startups in recent times, with an estimated value of over $70 billion.