lets take this simple question. Where am I? When you answer this question by checking in with your GPS device, you’re actually asking (and answering) the question “What are my GPS coordinates?”.
What are GPS coordinates, and what do they mean?
Global positioning systems work by calculating your exact physical location via a group of satellites orbiting around the world through a GPS enabled device. This system simplifies the traditional way of finding your latitude and longitude via a map, 3 known points, a compass, and the azimuth.
It’s all very complicated, but the end result is much simpler. You just end up with your precise latitude and longitude, and when you superimpose those coordinates on a map you can then find out where you are.
This may seem like a simple enough piece of information, but it opens up a whole boatload of practical uses when you think about how GPS can really affect your life and the people around you.
You don’t get lost.
This is perhaps the most important and the most obvious benefit, so let’s mention it right at the top. It’s easy enough to get lost these days, if you’re a hiker, camping enthusiast, a sailor, or a biker.
In fact, you can get lost very easily in a strange city, and it can be somewhat panic-inducing if you’re a tourist in a place where no one speaks your language.
But with GPS, that’s no longer a problem. You can find out exactly where you are when your GPS coordinates are laid over a map, and you can see that on smartphones and on the screens of GPS devices.
You can then figure out how to get back to your hotel if you’re a tourist, or to your campsite if you’re a hiker. If you’re sailing on a yacht with no landmarks in sight and a cloudy sky, your GPS device can provide you with a location relative to the nearest shore or to where you came from.
These days, you can find a new restaurant, bar, or shop using GPS coordinates. Now if you don’t want to ask for directions from people on the street, you don’t have to.
No one gets lost.
You’re not limited to just checking your location either. With the right devices and software, you can make sure that your kids or forgetful grandparents don’t get lost.
Everyone has a smartphone these days, and it’s possible to track the locations of friends and family members using the GPS features on their
If you’re in trouble and you need rescuers to come to you, they can also do that using your smartphone. That’s why lots of 911 operators ask callers to keep the line open, so that responding police officers can track their location.
For people who travel in groups, this benefit means that people can go their separate ways and still keep track of each other. You can also decide beforehand where you all can meet, and no one gets lost getting to that location.
You can even put a GPS tracker on your pet dogs and cats. If they ever get lost, you can find them more easily. You can also put a tracker on your car, in case it’s stolen or you forgot where you parked. Some people even put a tracker on their luggage!
You can mark where you’ve been.
Many GPS devices can log the places you’ve been on a map, so that you can return to particular spots whenever you want. Perhaps you can mark the precise spots in your hike where you got awesome views of nature, or put warning signs in areas where you almost got into trouble.
You can even share these spots with other people, especially if they’re using compatible devices.
Some devices can do this automatically, with the frequency setting of your choice. The GPS device can mark where you are every hour, every 10 minutes, or even every second.
If you misplaced your keys and you’re backtracking where you’ve been, you now have a handy guide to your previous locations.
You can estimate your speed.
Let’s say you’re biking on a highway and you’re at point A to start. After an hour you’re in point B. The number of miles from A to B is basically your speed in terms of miles per hour!
GPS devices these days can be very advanced, and they can detect your altitude and allow you to send emergency messages to rescue centers. Your GPS coordinates may just be a bunch of numbers at first glance, but they can affect your daily life in many different ways.