A Piece of Technology – GPS
A Piece of Technology – GPS
Global Positioning System or GPS is a navigation system used for providing location and other related information like coordinates, time and visual data. The GPS system is owned and maintained by the United States government that offers free services for anyone owning a GPS receiver. The GPS has two main elements, the receiver and the satellite. The satellites in space continuously transmit time and location information to receivers on Earth. The receivers interpret the information to determine the street, block or building that is required by the user. Modern GPS units even display the speed, direction of moving objects. Accuracy in GPS systems is obtained by combining the information from four or more satellites.
Development of the GPS system
The GPS project was started in 1973 as a remedy to the previous navigation systems that were ineffective. The first GPS system went operational in 1994 in the Department of Defense using 24 satellites (Greg, 2012). During the WWII, the military saw the need for a technology that would determine the soldiers’ location and other landmarks and ease the navigation through enemy territory. Pilots who flew over unfamiliar territory also had the same problem. The TRANSIT positioning system was the first attempt at developing a GPS in 1960 (Greg, 2012). It was first tested on five satellites but had the disadvantage of only relaying information once every hour. In 1978, the Block-II navigation system was developed that was an improvement over the TRANSIT (Greg, 2012).
The idea for developing an intricate system for tracking down individuals and other locations was initially implemented as the Defense Navigation Satellite System that operated around military circles until the Korean Airlines attack over USSR airspace in 1983 (Greg, 2012). The aggression by the USSR was responsible for the increased pace in developing a Global Positioning System After the attack; President Ronald Reagan issued an order that GPS services were to be made available to all civilians. Initial public GPS systems had a low quality signal due to the selective ability option that was later discontinued in 2000. By this time, GPS became a central part of the American government with the establishment of the National Space- Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive department (Whalen, 2011).
Over a decade, the US government has made advancements in improving the quality, efficiency and flexibility of GPS systems. The wave of GPS modernization has increased the services to include new signals for civilians to use, increased integrity and accuracy and increased compatibility with existing GPS systems. Currently, GPS systems have been successfully installed in mobile phones, vehicles and other electronic devices such as computers. These developments have not changed the basic mode of operation for the GPS systems that still depend on the relay of information between the GPS receiver and the satellites, situated in outer space. GPS has also been integrated into the space programs to improve the delivery of GPS services (Whalen, 2011).
Integration of GPS systems in criminal justice sector
Criminal justice has also made various applications of GPS to aid in meeting their key objective of arresting and detaining lawbreakers. Offenders on parole, supervised release or community service have experience first hand the application of GPS systems in enforcing compliance with the court requirements. The GPS installations have also assisted in tracking the whereabouts of released convicts and other suspects. The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency in America have applied this strategy to over 800 offenders with success since 2003 (Greg, 2012). The GPS tracking system has the advantage of networking databases with other enforcement departments in other states (Whalen, 2011).
Through this system, law enforcers can help each other to track down offenders and even determine if they were present at a crime scene. Apart from unique police systems, the GPS technology still compliments the criminal justice system in other ways. Mobile phone tracking by police is a common phenomenon that has been used for over a decade. The criminal justice system has discovered the value of GPS that is nowadays installed into most public utilities and mobile property such as motor cars, mobile phones and other electronics. The GPS system works more efficiently than patrolling police officers in limiting the movements of offenders.
The GPS treatment is one of the most severe endorsements that a court can impose on any suspect as it implies the person is a high-risk offender, violent individual or a sex offender. Using the GPS system, these volatile offenders are kept under close supervision. In the case that offenders return to their law breaking behavior after being released, the police can notify the victim and the responsible law enforcers that will take quick action and avert a possible crime. Community supervision officers have used GPS to protect the public. The success of the GPS program is also accompanied by massive responsibility on the part of the agency implementing it (Greg, 2012).
Defense attorneys have also discovered the relevance of the GPS ruling in the event of a court case that involves negotiating the punishment to give an offender. Lawyers have resorted to bargaining with the court to place their clients under GPS monitoring instead of placing them in custody with long jail terms. People who accept such a judgment are awarded inclusion and exclusion zones where they are expected to operate without violating the jurisdiction requirements. Currently, all sex offenders in most states are awarded GPS monitoring to control their movements (Greg, 2012). Conversely, the GPS technology has many disadvantages including technological setbacks such as GPS jamming, which renders them non-functional.
Greg B. (2012) GPS Tracking Helps Overburdened Criminal Justice Departments. Rocky Mountain Tracking. Retrieved from http://www.rmtracking.com/blog/2009/11/26/gps-tracking-helps-overburdened-criminal-justice-departments/
Whalen, M. (2011). Technology in criminal justice: Current perspectives from Infotrac. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage