Most people associate GPS technology with avid hikers, military operations, or—perhaps more commonly—as a built-in phone app for directions to that place you can never quite remember how to get to. What most people don’t realize is that GPS technology is being used to save lives around the world, from monitoring the positions of airplanes and trains to prevent crashes, to locating kidnapped children or lost hikers. The following are a few ways GPS tracking technology saves lives around the world.
A Kidnapping Thwarted
In 2015, a Texas teen was kidnapped while on a walk around her neighborhood. Fortunately, she was wearing an inconspicuous GPS tracking device, which allowed her mother to track her down. While not every story ends with a rescue, this GPS tracker likely saved the life of this teenager, and others like it have saved lives countless times by letting law enforcement officers know exactly where their target is. More recently, GPS development companies have begun creating miniature trackers for foreign traveling executives and other high-profile targets to use when visiting dangerous countries. With this technology, you can be sure that someone will always know where to find you if disaster strikes.
Lost and Found: A Hiker Saved
For those of us who frequent the outdoors, taking a GPS into the wilds can be as important as packing in clean water. With so many things that could go wrong, hikers need to protect themselves with a tool that allows them to know exactly where they are at all times and allows them to call for aid if they require assistance. One hiker learned first hand the value of GPS trackers when, miles from civilization, he accidentally shot himself in the leg. Fortunately, his GPS unit came with a 911 button, which let him call for medical aid and emergency evacuation. With this technology, an average citizen can ping Search and Rescue crews when they’re needed most.
Transportation Tracking and Accident Prevention
Have you ever been to an international airport and been forced to wait what seems like hours until the runway is clear to take off? This is because Air Traffic Control is monitoring planes both in the air and on the ground, managing use of the runways to increase efficiency and preventing crashes. In decades past, most Control towers used radar to track flights, but since 2010 there has been a push for the use of GPS units to more precisely track airplanes. With GPS technology, planes can safely fly closer together, thus reducing delays and even distances in some cases, as planes will no longer be forced to fly meandering routes to mark their positions on tracking beacons. Not only that but, with GPS equipment, planes are less likely to disappear without a trace, increasing passenger safety statistics around the world.
It can be surprising to see how many situations are improved and made safer with the use of GPS technology. From communication to location identification, GPS units have been saving lives for years now. Providing assistance around the world, GPS technology has proved that once again it’s worth the cost and is here to stay.