UPDATED February 10, 2022 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology

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Christian Mathews Security Writer

If you have ever tracked someone, you might already be knowing how versatile these tiny tools are. Fit them in someone’s car or keep them in your spouse’s purse and you can stay updated with every move of the target person. But have you ever wondered how does a GPS tracker work? We’ll cover that and more below.

1What Is GPS Tracking And How Does It Work?

GPS trackers, quite predictably, make use of a GPS or the Global Positioning System to track a target person’s location.

A GPS tracking system works with a satellite and networking system, known as the Global Navigation satellite system (GNSS) network. This includes a group of 24 satellites that send microwave signals. GPS devices transmit these signals. This makes it possible to live track locations and even use them historically as well.

It also makes uses of a mathematical principle called trilateration. The GPS receiver needs to know two things to perform this mathematical calculation. The location of the place to be traced and the distance between the them and satellites are used.

What do tracking devices look like? They come in various sizes, models and installations. Read below to better understand where you would find them and how they are used.

2How Does A Vehicle Tracking Device Work?

The vehicle tracking device system makes use of four components to track a moving vehicle. They include GPS satellites in outer space, GPS tracking system fitted to the vehicle, wireless network and the GPS servers. Knowing where a GPS tracking device is installed on a car makes it easier to find and remove, if you choose replace or remove it completely.

Tracking Device

How does GPS tracker work? The tracking devices installed in each of the vehicles act as the main component to gather various data points, including position, speed, navigation, and timing.

The GPS system works with GPS satellites that transmit the vehicle’s location to the tracking device.

GPS Satellites

To know the exact location and time, the vehicle tracking device uses at least four satellites to provide a clear range and view of the targeted moving vehicle. More satellites help in gaining an accurate location. Satellites work throughout the day regularly with the help of solar energy from orbiting the earth twice a day.

Satellites collect data stored inside the tracking device.

Wireless Network

Wireless networks transmit the data received once it is received and stored in the tracking device. Cellular networks transmit the data to the GPS servers.

These GPS servers act as cloud storage from where the information can be accessed, and this is how you can gather the required information of vehicle tracking on whatever device you are on, be it a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Basic information is allowed to be viewed by others include their real-time location displayed over a map. Moreover, all other information generated depends on the fleet service provider and the technologies they use to provide relevant alerts and information to the customers while tracking the vehicle’s live location.

3How Does GPS Phone Tracker Work

Even while calling, cell phones work with the help of constantly broadcasting radio signals. With the help of triangulation information, cell phone service providers are able to receive these signals from the towers to estimate the location of the cell phones. However, with the advent of GPS technology, receiving signals and cell phone tracking has become more accurate.

GPS phone trackers enable anyone to have a GPS-enabled cell phone to track the location of one another almost instantly by sharing their GPS location. How does that work?

Power levels and antenna patterns are used to locate mobile phones. Your mobile phone communicates wirelessly to the closest base stations and estimates the distance between yourself and base station is recorded. Additionally, GSM localization is used to locate the GSM mobile phones. This helps share one’s location to another conveniently.

4Who Uses GPS Tracking?

GPS tracking finds an array of uses nowadays. Businesses, parents, and spouses widely use GPS tracking systems all over the world.

Anyone looking for sending their current location can use a GPS enabled device. Also, ride-sharing companies use GPS tracking to take rides to any destination. Feet management companies use them to provide vehicle tracking services to its customers and clients. GPS technology makes fleet management cost-effective as it is easy to track mobile assets, be it aircraft, ships, or trucks.

5What Are Other Uses For GPS Tracking

Beyond knowing how does GPS tracker work, there are other use cases for it.

Cell phone tracker apps for parental controls use GPS tracking too.Various parental control apps in the market lets parents keep an eye on their child. These apps include GPS features like geo-Fencing and GPS live tracking that enables parents to keep their children safe and be aware of their whereabouts.

Recreational activities like geocaching, distance running, hiking, mountain biking and many more, all use GPS tracking.

Not to forget, GPS even plays an important role in finding lost devices and phones as well. It is because of the GPS feature in smartphones that makes finding cell phones easy. Not only this, they are even beneficial in rescue operations.

Search and rescue operations are conducted with the help of GPS tracking devices. Search operations are more successful, much faster and accurate as opposed to traditional times when pencil and paper were used to track the estimated location.