GPS is a proven technology; there are a number of very expensive satellites in orbit over the earth, which continually send signals that GPS receivers can receive. Based on the data from the satellite signal, a GPS receiver calculates its own location and displays that location for the user. To make GPS easier to use, the longitude and latitude is displayed over a map which will show terrain features, roads, streets and even particular addresses.
There are lots basic examples where GPS can help law enforcement officers:
- Location Identification : GPS helps to pinpoint a location (for example, a crime scene or maybe a place that officers want to search later and they want to be sure they can be able to get back to that location) and preserving information about that particular location in memory on the device.
- Preventing Illegal Activities : A marine or wildlife officer may use GPS technology to locate and publish a hide where people are attempting to or are in the process of hunting illegally. Another practical situation may be that the officers go into the woods and come across illegal activity such as a marijuana field or a meth laboratory. The officers can use GPS technology to document exactly where it is because a street address will not be available.. The GPS device will remember the location and will display the data later on and can identify spatial patterns of other illegal activities.
- Wild Animal Tracking : The technology can be used to assist tracking of the movement of wild animals, identify trends over both time, space, and weather conditions, prepare spatial maps of forests, and even help reduce poaching.
Combining the Geographical Information System (GIS) and GPS in the main control room, the police response time to distress calls will improve. Some of the advanced uses of GPS for law enforcement are:
- Tracking people/vehicles : law enforcement officers can take a GPS receiver and covertly attach it to a vehicle. The receiver is set up to at particular, pre-set, pre-determined intervals. It calculates its location and remembers it. That data is recorded and then later on the officers can download the information from the device, put it on a computer and display when and where the vehicle was. It can even show a vehicles particular route and speed.
- Live Tracking : More advanced GPS gadgets will immediately translate the location through a cell phone on another wireless connection and officers can stand back and live track the vehicle either through a notebook computer that receives a cell phone signal
- Faster and Coordinated Response : A situation where a call is received at the police control room, the information can be instantly routed to the first available policeman on duty whiles, almost simultaneously, a database begins a search to find the address associated with the number. The time lag for the entire sequence of events may not be more than 10 seconds untill the identification of the location of the caller, and one minute untill the assigning of the case. This will enable accurate and real-time monitoring and tracking of their ground forces, taking response time to an emergency to a whole new level of efficiency.