There are a handful of historical events that have led to the ways in which modern Global Positioning Systems are used today. As more and more technologies unfold and as they continue to simplify our lives, it’s easy to forget how we’ve come to use them.

GPS was initially used as a military application by the British Royal Navy during WWII. A ground operated radio system, known as the LORAN and DECCA navigator, were used to identify a ship’s position. By sending radio signals from various and fixed locations, the Royal Navy was able to track a ships location along a grid.

The technology that allowed us to track positions and identify landing zones, was a valued commodity for the Allied forces throughout the war effort.

Civilian usage and the modern conveniences that accompany Global Positioning Systems didn’t come to fruition until much later.

Largely responsible for the consumer and commercial application of GPS was the Korean Air Lines Flight 007 that was shot down on September 1, 1983 by the former USSR. The Boeing 747 passenger jet carrying 269 individuals was gunned down as it flew through restricted soviet airspace. The attack resulted in mass casualties, including 11 American Lives.

To prevent future incidents and in an effort to prevent unwarranted attacks, President Ronald Reagan called for the civilian application of GPS. Vehicles and aircraft whose function was to ship or to transport were equipped with the technologies that were predominantly military in nature. The goal was to prevent civilian vessels from wandering into restricted airspace. As we’ve seen from recent news and the events that have transpired with Malaysia Airlines, GPS allows us to travel more intelligently, but not always freely.

In 1993, the United States launched their final satellite.  This completed the constellation of 24 satellites that make-up our current Global Positioning System. Today there are 30 satellites that allow us to pin-point a precise location on Earth’s surface. GPS helps us navigate, calculate elevation and even stay within the speed limit.

There are a number of commercial uses for GPS including vehicle tracking, fleet management, and endless software opportunities. Thanks to the LORAN and DECCA navigation system, we are able to use GPS to travel efficiently and be mindful of costs.

Modern GPS and its uses are invaluable for companies like who use this technology to track ROI.

From the British Royal Navy, to optimizing driving routes and reducing idling time, new and exciting applications for GPS tracking are being created everyday.

It’ll be interesting to see what types of advancements are made as the commercial application of modern GPS evolves. It’s more than likely today’s GPS infrastructure will be the LORAN and DECCA of tomorrow.