Can GPS Help Save the Environment?

As the global environment becomes an increasing concern for the general population, it’s important to take every measure possible to ensure that we’re protecting and sustaining our world. To do so while also counterbalancing the needs of the earth’s human and animal inhabitants can be a tricky balance to strike, but an imperative one.


In order to strike this balance successfully, it’s also vital for researchers to gather accurate, timely data in order to make informed decisions. Historically, this has been one of both the government and various private organizations’ biggest challenges. However, with the advent of the Global Positioning System, this need has been much better addressed.

How has the usage of GPS helped government officials and private companies to make these more informed choices? Here’s one example. Before the widespread usage of GPS devices were adopted, it was virtually impossible to record the movements of elephants in the wild with temporal resolution ample enough to provide a comprehensive picture of movement patterns.

Connectedly, the continuous presence of wild elephants in Kenya is a happy indicator of the health of the environment – and one that could not be adequately noted without the help of GPS. In this way, GPS is able to provide telling information about environmental health.

But how does this work? As an isolated source of data, the ability of the Global Positioning System to positively affect the environment is limited. But in conjunction with other types of data, GPS allows researchers to analyze a fuller data picture of many environmental problems from an entirely new perspective.

For instance, position data harvested through the usage of GPS can then be imported into geographic information system software, which allows its spatial aspects to be analyzed alongside other data, creating a more complete understanding of the environmental situation in any given place than would likely be possibly through more conventional means.

In the case of the Kenyan elephants, researchers’ data about the movements of healthy elephants, coupled with the tracking of these movements using GPS, allows them to see that environmental conditions in Kenya have maintained a high enough level to facilitate healthy elephant development – a reassuring fact for all of us.

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