From Chief Gene Saunders, CEO and Founder of Project Lifesaver International – I have been asked often, in the past 12 years, about GPS and cell phone tracking and why we have not gone to it or endorse it. My answer is simple:
GPS and cell phone tracking are great; if you know how to use it and make sure you stand in the open, under a cloudless sky. Over the years, we at PLI have observed many tests of this technology and have conducted several ourselves. Each test renders the same results: GPS and cell phone tracking are not reliable enough to place a person’s life in jeopardy by its use. Too often, it completely failed or placed the location of the person far away from their actual location. For example; we incurred many failures if the person with the GPS unit was under anything or masked the unit with their body. For instance, in a house, under an overpass, in a car, under thick trees or in some cases thick cloud cover. These are the same instances where RF (radio) tracking did locate the person. We have one documented instance where GPS was being used in a search and rescue training exercise, it failed and a search had to be launched for the person wearing the unit. We have also tested several units in large downtown areas and it either failed completely, by loss of signal or sent to us to a phantom location. One company engaged in this technology, after I challenged their results, finally placed a disclaimer on its website, stating – anything capable of blocking sunlight may block GPS signals. So, if you are asking me if I endorse or recommend GPS/cell phone tracking, my answer is; for airplanes, boats, or any situation where life is not immediately in peril and the person using it understand how it works and stands out in the open, it will probably work. If not, don’t bet your life or someone else’s on it.