Global Positioning System Technology in Cargo Operations

Executive Summary

GPS technology has significantly added to cargo visibility, a fact which has led to a rapid improvement in the general cargo operations. This study gives an analysis on how the GPS technology has led to improvement in the cargo visibility and safety in the cargo operations. This study concentrates basically on the operations involved in the movement of cargo from the origin to the destination.

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The study has indicated that the application of the GPS technology in cargo operations has significantly improved and promised a high level of security. Unlike the manual tracking system where it was difficult to locate an exact location of the unit carrying the cargo, this technology now enables the users to access many details about the cargo. These involve location, time and speed. These aspects make this system ideal for cargo security.


In the contemporary world, GPS (Global Positioning System) has become one of the most significant components in cargo security. This technology has significantly contributed to the improvement of the security level in the industry. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a technical marvel that uses satellites positioned such that they transmit appropriate signals which allow the GPS receivers to make calculations and display the speed, location and time information to the users (Zahradnik, not dated).

Through calculations, it becomes very easy to locate where a certain cargo is from the GPS receivers. This is made possible by capturing the signals sent. Through other technological combinations like software, the GPS receivers can display adequate information in a useful display format. This technology was originally used by the United States Department of Defense. However, it is now used in various areas. According to Collins et al. (2006), the future of the port security can only be promised through the adoption of the modern technology. The importance of this technology has increased and it his now used in various ways.

In other words, GPS technology has significantly contributed to security improvement. As already indicated, it is possible to track the speed, location and time information. This has significantly helped in security improvement.

Thesis Statement

In the contemporary world, the GPS technology has led to a significant improvement in the cargo visibility. This has led to an enormous improvement in cargo security. This improvement has also significantly contributed to improvement in the security of the cargo in movement. The cargo in movement is now more secure through this technology than earlier when it was subjected to adverse risks. By securing cargo while being transported, GPS also promotes the visibility of the cargo to the stakeholders involved in cargo transportation. Both the visibility and security significantly determines the reliability of the cargo movement.

Literature Review

In international trade, the issue of security has been of great concern as the security threats increases. The major concerns are the issues of drug trafficking and security well being of the country. There are several security threats posed to the country through international trade. These include shipment of mass destruction weapons and any other dangerous goods. It also includes illegal drug smuggling into the country. It is, therefore, necessary to have necessary measures to maintain cargo security in the country’s borders, ports, and airports.

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However, the introduction of GPS technology has significantly improved the security of cargo worldwide. Through the application of GPS technology, various stakeholders involved in the international trade can be able to track all the necessary information they need to monitor the condition, location and the security of their cargo. In the air cargo, GPS has significantly improved the security levels (Peterson, 2008).

Recently, many countries have recognized the importance of GPS technology in promoting the cargo security. This has increased the efficiency and effectiveness of this method. For this method to become effective, the trading partners should cooperate in the implementation of this system in their operations.

In case some of the trading partners fail to do so, the effectiveness of this security measure will be threatened. In Philippine, for instance, this method has been successfully implemented. Through the liberalization of trade, many countries have joined hands together in an effort of improving the security of the cargo in order to promote efficiency in trade (Republic of Philippines; Bureau of Customs, 2009). This has significantly promoted international trade different various trading partners.

GPS in Prevention of Illegal Trade

As already noted, the GPS technology has led to a commendable improvement in the cargo visibility and security. These have helped in overcoming the problem of illegal trade which faces many countries. For instance, Cameroon has been faced with many problems of illegal trade over the past (CP-Africa, 2009). For instance, there have been some cases where the goods have been diverted back into the local markets illegally.

As a result, the country experiences unnecessary completion which distorts the market system. The tracking of goods has for long being done manually. This method proved impotent as illegal trade was uncontrollable by tracking goods manually. However, the adoption of GPS technology has led to a significant reduction in these problems. It has increased the security as well as cargo visibility (Mintsis et al, 2004). The country has adopted the GPS technology fully and necessary installations are being made.

After the installation of the GPS, the authority is now able to track the cargo trucks after leaving the port (CP-Africa, 2009). Through this application, the authority is now able to track the location in a specific time of the unit carrying the device. The user can easily locate the location of the unit on a map using certain software. It has now become easier for the authority to avoid illegal trade by have a close tracing of the cargo from the place of origin until it reaches the destination.

Supply chain

GPS has significantly led to an improvement in the supply chain in the international trade. With this form of technology, investors can regulate their business activities. For instance, investors can track the flow of certain exports in a certain region. Such realization helps in making appropriate decisions while exporting goods. For instance, an investor may identify which region will be better to take exports.

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GPS technology has also led to an improvement in the security level in the supply chain (Fischer & Green, 2004). Through this technology, the owners of the cargo can trace their goods from the port of origin to the destination. This has helped in security assurance to investors. According to the GAO report, supply chain security plays a pivotal role in promoting the general security levels in the nation (GAO, 2008).

The application of GPS technology in the supply chain has also increased the efficiency of the strategies applied in curbing insecurity in the supply chain (Bragdon, 2008). For instance, FAST, which gives security from the country of origin up to the port of the United States as well as its release from the port to the area of destination within the country, will be more efficient through this technology. Armed with the information from GPS receivers, it will be able to locate the cargo, estimate time and also the speed (Anonymous, 2011).

All this information will be necessary for a successful application of this strategy. As a result of this close surveillance, no dangerous weapon finds its way in the United States. However, some security measures call for bilateral agreements between the trading partners. For instance, the Secure Freight Initiative requires the trading partners to come up with an agreement. Otherwise, this strategy cannot be effective if there is no agreement between the partners. The adoption of GPS technology by all the trading partners will significantly help in promoting security in the country.

The Role of Different Stakeholders in Promoting the Effectiveness of GPS

For this technology to be effective, it is advisable for all the stakeholders involved to cooperate effectively to promote its efficiency. Each stakeholder has to play their roles to help in achieving the best in the process. Otherwise, the results will be impotent. There are several stakeholders involved in cargo security. One of the main stakeholders involved in the cargo security is the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This agency his involved in securing the nation’s borders as well as protecting the members of the American public from any threat which may negatively impact on their lives (Ritter, Barrett & Wilson, 2007). Through the GPS technology, this body can be able to estimate when they expect a certain cargo to arrive (Rose India, 2008). This will help in preparations for the necessary activities like screening among others. It is also possible for them to trace the speed at which a vessel is moving. Therefore, in case the vessel stops, for instance for illegal loading, CBP will know and conduct a thorough search operation on suspected cargo.

This agency plays a significant role in protecting the country from any act of terrorism. As a part of Homeland Security, CBP has faced tough challenges in its effort to fight terrorism in the country (Ritter, Barrett & Wilson, 2007). This agency applies a multilayered strategy to maximize the security levels. The agency has also embraced modern technology in order to maximize the security level in the country. Some of the security measures undertaken by CBP include scanning of the cargo before clearing. Application of GPS has led to a significant reduction of these challenges.

Another stakeholder involved in the cargo security is the carrier. The carrier has the responsibility of presenting the necessary information about the cargo to make an appropriate tracking of the cargo while in transportation. For instance, the Carrier’s information about the cargo should not differ from the information read through the signals sent through GPS. This information is also very important while inspecting this cargo in strategic positions.

It will also be useful in preventing the incorporation of unwanted material with the cargo. This plays a significant role in the maintenance of the country’s security. The other duties for the carrier in cargo security improves controlling the loading and discharging of the cargo (Jennifer, 2004). After discharging the cargo, it necessary to alert the security at the destination so that they can track the cargo as it approaches. The carrier is also involved in issuing the bills of landing. These functions also play an important role in maintaining security in the country.

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To maximize security measures through the help of GPS, it is advisable for the personnel involved in the cargo security to have an effective interaction (Ritter, Barrett & Wilson, 2007). Best results can only be realized through effective coordination of activities involved in the cargo transportation. For instance, CBP must access the necessary information for it to carry its exercise appropriately. In this case, the importer may give the right description of the cargo in question. In this process, it will be easy for the CBP to detect any additional products in the cargo. In this case, CBP will be able to detect things like the mass destruction weapons which may be shipped into the country through the cargo. In this case, the provision of wrong information may prove the whole exercise impotent.

On the other hand, CBP must use the information given by the importers and carriers in ensuring the cargo security. This information can only be useful if used appropriately in checking for unwanted material in the imported products. The screening of the cargo will also depend on the available information (Lake, 2004). Currently, the Homeland Security has promoted inter-agency cooperation to maximize the security level in the country. For instance, the inter-agency visa revocation process has significantly helped in giving notifications on suspected terrorists and relevant supporting information to different agencies concerned (Ford, 2003). This has significantly helped in the identification of criminal activities.

GPS technology has also contributed to the fight against drug trafficking. Over the recent past, the issue of drug trafficking has become very common in international trade. Most of the existing strategies aimed at curbing drug trafficking exercises now seem to promote drug trafficking practices (Sherman, 2009). However, GPS technology has helped in reducing the cases of drug entry into the country.


In conclusion, this discussion has clearly shown that the GPS technology has significantly led to an improvement in the level of security in the international trade. This technology has enables different stakeholders to be able to track the cargo as it moves from the port of origin to the port of destination. This is one of the major improvements in cargo security.

This technology allows the user to know the location, the speed and the time aspects for the unit carrying the cargo. This has increased the security of the cargo as it moves from one country to another. It is easier now to avoid entry of dangerous weapons into the country. In other words, this technology has contributed to the fight against terrorism. The air cargo has also been protected from dangerous attacks of terrorism through GPS tracking (Elias, 2007).

However, the adoption of this method by all the stakeholders will determine its effectiveness. It is, therefore, advisable for all the parties involved to ensure they have fully installed the devices to avoid any inconveniences. By so doing, the cargo security will remain intact which will help in protecting the parties involved and more so the security of the citizens from terrorism.

Reference List

Anonymous. (2011). Understanding GPS Technology. Web.

Bragdon, C. (2008). Transportation Security. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Collins, S. et al. (2006). Future of Port Security. U.S.A.: DIANE.

CP-Africa, (2009). Cameroon: satellite tracking curbs illegal trading. Web.

Elias, B. (2007). Air Cargo security. Web.

Fischer, R. and Green, G. (2004). Introduction to Security. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Ford, J. (2003). Border Security: New Policies And Increased Interagency Coordination Needed To Improve Visa Process. GAO-03-1013T. Web.

Lake, J. (2004). Border and Transportation Security: Overview of Congressional Issues. CRS Report for Congress. RL 32705. Web.

Mintsis et al. (2004). European Journal of Operational Research Volume 152, Issue 2, Pages 399-409.

Peterson, B. (2008). GPS from the ground up. Web.

Republic of Philippines; Bureau of Customs. (2009). Customs proposes the use of GPS technology to secure and facilitate transit cargo. Web.

Ritter, L. Barrett, M. and Wilson, R. (2007). Securing global transportation networks: a total security management approach. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Rose India. (2008). GPS Tracking and its Applications. Web.

Sherman, C. (2009). FAST Lanes draw drug trade. Laredo; Texas.

Zahradnik, F. (n.d.). How GPS Works. Web.

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