GPS tracking devices are not the same as vehicle GPS systems. While both do use satellite systems, a GPS tracking device tracks a specific item, such as a vehicle or an individual, where as a vehicle GPS system is designed to help people find their route. A tracking device can be used on cars, bikes, people, trucks, and anything else, including laptop computers and smartphones.

How Do GPS Tracking Devices Work?

A tracking device uses satellite signals that determines exactly where a vehicle is and how fast it is traveling. Information is then sent to the orbiting satellite, which sends it back to a software package on a smartphone or computer. It can also send alerts if a vehicle goes too fast or moves outside of a predetermined geographical area. Additionally, these devices create maps so that someone can look back at the route that was travelled.

GPS tracking devices are commonly used by private investigators, law enforcement professionals, insurance and fraud investigators, and more. The goal is to collect information needed for investigations. Cab companies, limousine services, and delivery companies use them to make sure their corporate fleet is used properly. Plus, if a company vehicle is stolen, the tracking system can easily relocate it.

Some companies have also found these systems help them increase productivity. It ensures employees are not tempted to slack off work, or to use their company vehicle for personal reasons. It also ensures that they can prove when employees were at certain locations.

Then, there is the fact that a tracker can be used to monitor where spouses or children are at all times. However, this is somewhat controversial. It is legal to use these systems without any special permit in the majority of states, many people do feel it is a little bit too Orwellian in nature. You do also have to check whether there are any local laws that you have to adhere to.

GPS trackers and GPS systems also have some functional differences. Trackers are used to monitor movements and collect data. This means that the vehicle and/or its occupant are tracked. Systems record and store a detailed map of movements. This is why they are also popular with law enforcement professionals, who monitor and track potential suspects without being seen themselves.

By contrast, a GPS system has to be fitted with mapping software that helps people get directions to and from certain locations. A tracker doesn’t need to have mapping software installed. GPS systems don’t track vehicles, but rather support navigation of vehicles to get from one place to the next. That said, both use overhead satellites to obtain and transmit longitude and latitude information, thereby pinpointing exactly where a vehicle either has been or should be going.

It will come as no surprise, therefore, that certain GPS devices now have both – directional purposes and tracking purposes. A good example of this the smartphone with internet connection, onto which apps can be installed that do both.