GPS Applications in Various Fields


Although originally designed for military and intelligence applications at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, in the 1980s GPS was released for use in civilian applications. Today, millions of users rely on satellite navigation for finding their way from A to B and a whole lot more besides.

Use in Positioning & Navigation:

GPS has a variety of applications on land, at sea and in the air.

Basically, GPS is usable everywhere except where it's impossible to receive the signal such as inside most buildings, in caves and other subterranean locations, and underwater.

It allows anyone with a GPS receiver to pinpoint their speed and position on land, air or sea, with incredible accuracy.

The most common airborne applications are for navigation by general aviation and commercial aircraft.

Drivers can use in-vehicle portable navigation devices to follow a route, find detours around traffic problems, and with additional software receive traffic alerts and warnings on safety camera locations.

At sea, GPS is also typically used for navigation by recreational boaters, commercial fishermen, and professional mariners.

Land-based applications are more diverse.

The scientific community uses GPS for its precision timing capability and position information.

Surveyors use GPS for an increasing portion of their work. GPS offers cost savings by drastically reducing setup time at the survey site and providing incredible accuracy.

Basic survey units, costing thousands of dollars, can offer accuracies down to one meter. More expensive systems are available that can provide accuracies to within a centimeter.

Use in Recreation:

Recreational uses of GPS are almost as varied as the number of recreational sports available.

GPS is popular among hikers, hunters, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers, just to name a few.

Gamers can take part in geocaching, a kind of treasure hunt for the digital age, which uses precise GPS signals to help the players track down a hidden stash.


Anyone who needs to keep track of where he or she is, to find his or her way to a specified location, or know what direction and how fast he or she is going can utilize the benefits of the global positioning system.

GPS is now commonplace in automobiles as well. Some basic systems are in place and provide emergency roadside assistance at the push of a button (by transmitting your current position to a dispatch center).

More sophisticated systems that show your position on a street map are also available.

Currently these systems allow a driver to keep track of where he or she is and suggest the best route to follow to reach a designated location.

Use in Emergency Services

The emergency services can use GPS not only to find their way to an incident quicker than ever before but also to pinpoint the location of accidents and allow follow-up staff to find the scene quickly.

This is particularly useful for search and rescue teams at sea and in extreme weather conditions on land where time can be a matter of life or death.

Use in Science

Scientists and engineers also have applications for GPS receivers, in scientific experiments, and in monitoring geological activity such as earth tremors, earthquakes and volcanic rumblings.

They can use strategically positioned GPS devices to assist them in tracking climate change and other phenomena.

Fundamentally, GPS can now be used to produce very accurate maps.

Notes & Handouts

The Himalayas

Kumaon Himalayas

Askot Basemetals



This website is hosted by

S. Farooq

Department of Geology

Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh - 202 002 (India)

Phone: 91-571-2721150