While the U.S. government, specifically the U.S. Department of Defense, developed the global positioning system, it was deemed a resource that should be available for civilian use, even before it was completed.
In 1983 after an airliner was shot down by a Soviet interceptor aircraft for straying into prohibited space, President Reagan issued the directive that once completed, the global positioning system should be available to civilians. In 1996 President Clinton issued the policy directive first established by Reagan, and civilian GPS applications emerged.
Since then GPS Tracking has become an essential part of the civilian life, although not many people may realize its importance and the extent of civilian GPS applications.
Today's civilian GPS applications save lives. Mobile phones were integrated with GPS tracking technology in the late 1990s. This GPS tracking technology can determine pinpoint locations of cellular calls. This is critical in locating 911 callers who use their cell phones to call for help. Also, disaster relief and emergency services depend on GPS trackers to coordinate their resources for best responses.
In addition to locating 911 callers using their cell phones, the GPS tracking technology in cell phones can also be used to track individuals who may be in distress. That is why it's recommended to always carry your cellphone, even in locations without a signal, such as when hiking.
Civilian GPS tracking applications include monitoring the movements of pets, children or adults. The GPS tracking system can be attached to a person, vehicle, pet or child. When the target leaves or enters a restricted area, a message is sent. Using GPS tracking software, the target can be monitored via a mobile application or the internet.
Civilian GPS applications extend into everyday activities, from banking to finding your way to a new destination. Today's mobile phone has essentially become a GPS tracker, providing precise directions for the civilian user.
GPS tracking technology is now used to control the power grids, enabling well synchronized hand-off switching and continuous electrical supply even as demands increase.
Civilian GPS applications also include recreational use.
For instance, geocaching, an outdoor sport activity, involves participants using GPS trackers to hide and seek containers, called geocaches, throughout the world.
Another example is GPS tours. GPS tours enable individuals with GPS trackers to view point-of-interest information based on their location. For instance, a GPS tracker in a museum will know which painting it is in front of and displays information about that painting.