For more than a decade the concern of personal privacy and the “big brother” apprehension has haunted many. With the ongoing development of Pocket PC’s and GPS Locators, consumer groups, politicians, and watchdog groups are voicing their concerns more than ever, fearing for a onslaught of privacy invasions by our government, terrorists, and others. While some of these concerns voiced may be quite valid, the advantages of GPS Locators or Personal Locators are endless.
Almost everyone today deals with traffic in some way or another. A car owner with a GPS system benefits by having a peace of mind that if their vehicle is stolen it can by easily located. A driver suddenly has a stroke, heart attack, or is involved in an accident and cannot reach their cell phone or call 911 – the GPS system can track their location and send the necessary help. OnStar by GM is on of the first of its kind, combining GPS and cellular technology in order to act as an on-board communication tool to the outside world. At any time, the OnStar system can be activated by a push of the button inside the car (or outside calls to OnStar) to connect to an OnStar representative. This system allows drivers to do several things including obtaining directions, get emergency help, or even run a vehicle diagnostic. It can even help in situations like unlocking doors. According to Road and Travel Magazine, in 2005 OnStar received over 9.5 million calls, with about 15,000 of those calls being emergency related.
Employers also can benefit from the GPS systems as it allows them to track where their employees travel, ensuring that their time on-the-job is well spent and as intended. This could save employers thousands of dollars in overtime pay, etc. GPS Locators can also be placed in to company equipment to ensure that they are not misplaced or even stolen. The locators of today can be used almost anywhere from cars, cell phones, and even watches. This practice in the end can even help the consumer. Imagine the plumber that is scheduled to visit a home that is in need of maintenance, and then claims that they worked for 4 hours, failing to mention the 2 hour lunch that was taken when claiming to be purchasing the necessary items to fix to problem.
One of the hottest uses however of locators and GPS systems today is for parents. At any time a parent can know the exact location of their child. In addition, some locators such as the PocketFinder Personal GPS Locator can be personalized to notify if the locator is out of a pre-set zone or in a “danger location” that the user had previously configured. These notifications can be sent to the consumer in several different manners, such as through email, cell phone, home phone, or text message. Parents with older children can use them to verify that their child is at a safe place before or after school and even to ensure that they are not leaving school grounds at improper times during the day. While some may believe that this is an invasion of a child’s right to privacy, any parent can sympathize with the idea of using a GPS or locator to find their child if missing.
On the other hand, possibly one of the most important uses of locators is their use in solving crimes. The police and FBI can use them on order to collaborate alibis and testimonies of victims, criminals and even witnesses. Currently there are only 27 states utilizing GPS technology in this manner, but that number is expected to grow as the benefits continue to rise. India is one of the first countries to begin using GPS in solving crimes, crime prevention, and locating criminals and missing persons. CSI Units are starting to pick up on the advantages of GPS for use in crime scene exploration and evidence collection. For those that are leaving jail for crimes ranging from small, non-violent crimes to pedophiles and other dangerous criminals, these locators, commonly known as ankle-bracelets, can be used to track their movements. According to the American Correctional Association, touch screen computer systems set up in homes, are being used by some departments as a form of tracking. This is in order to lessen the need for the traditional forms of supervision usually utilized during house arrest and probation situations, which can also be helpful to lessen the possibility of overcrowding in prisons today.
Lastly, the entertainment and travel industries are tapping in to the world of Personal GPS technology, allowing consumers a new way to shop, game and even fly. Say for instance that a retail giant decides to have a special on a day such as Black Friday. A retailer can send messages to consumers letting them know of a secret deal that day. Or maybe a hot product has just been released and a store wants to alert its consumers that they no longer have any in stock. Some of the most outrageous uses of GPS are coming out of the airline industry and entertainment industries. A movie-goer decides to purchase tickets online for a movie, but the ticket office realizes that after purchasing the tickets, the individual is too far away from the theater to make it to the movie on time. This causes them to contact the movie patron, offering later movie times and choices. In Japan, video game producers are creating ways for consumers to play games on their cellular phone, along with those in the same radius, even using the person’s specific location as their location in the game itself.
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