GPS and Off-Grid Living: Paths to Coexistence

Cabin in the woods

In our modern digital world, it can be difficult to reconcile an off-grid lifestyle with advancements in technology. After all, the viability of off-grid living is stronger than ever thanks to various forms of tech, such as GPS-tracking devices and alternative energy systems. Technology helps us achieve greater self-sufficiency, but there is also a dark side.

For now, at least, we can be grateful that American-based tracking technology is less intrusive than similar tech elsewhere across the world. In China, numerous employers have joined the surveillance state, monitoring their employees with GPS-equipped smartwatches. Much like the devices used to monitor criminals sentenced to house arrest, these Chinese tracking devices accurately track an individual’s location in real-time. 

But employers in China can collect even more comprehensive data thanks to wearable GPS tracking technology. Big brother can monitor how long an employee has remained in a particular spot to determine efficiency, and can better keep track of clock in and clock out times. While the idea of monitoring employees may seem innocuous on the surface, the implications are alarming and borderline dystopian.

So how can preppers and survivalists avoid the constant location monitoring that often accompanies GPS tracking? Further, how should you keep your personal data safe under the watchful eye of Google, Amazon, and other corporations that are invading your privacy? The good news is that you can still maintain your off-grid values by making technology work for you, rather than against. 

Navigation, Tracking, and Survival

Living off-grid isn’t for the faint of heart — along with steadfast willpower, adaptability and perseverance are essential traits of every off-gridder. Possessing a good sense of direction is also extremely useful, especially when your GPS fails. After all, you don’t have the luxury of street signs or perky gas station attendants whom you can ask for directions if you get turned around. And it is in the navigation of remote areas that GPS tracking can essentially serve as a lifeline. 

Navigation is also the backbone of GPS technology. GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System, was used solely for military applications until 1983. But GPS technology didn’t realize its full potential until a decade later. That year, the 24th Navstar satellite was launched into orbit, making the global tracking network complete.

Here’s where the story gets a little scary, at least where your personal privacy is concerned. In order to track your location using GPS technology, the satellites “continually broadcast their locations and status above us,” according to Azuga. The accuracy of satellite data is constantly monitored via the GPS control segment, a network of ground facilities scattered across the globe. The master control station is located at Schriever Air Force Base, just east of Colorado Springs. Thus, if you’re an off-gridder in the Mountain West, the GPS network ground zero is essentially in your backyard. 

The Best Way to Discard Electronic Devices 

Even if you don’t own a GPS device, you’re not immune to location tracking. And unfortunately, myriad other pieces of your personal identity may be compromised thanks to technology. Smartphones are the primary culprit where data breaches are concerned. If you’re like most Americans, your smartphone contains a veritable wealth of your personal information, from bank account info to your usernames, email addresses, and phone contacts.

When it’s time to upgrade a phone, many people simply trade in their old model, perhaps trusting that their personal data will be erased by a store employee. Yet that isn’t likely to happen, according to Business Insider. Even if you personally perform a factory reset before trading in your old smartphone, it won’t be enough to keep your personal data safe. That’s because factory resets only removes pointers to files that contain data. The data itself remains intact, accessible to savvy hackers.

So without giving up the idea of owning a smartphone completely, how can you safely upgrade and/or dispose of an old phone? There’s only one surefire way to protect your identity and personal information in the realm of electronics disposal: The device must be completely destroyed. While you can, of course, take matters into your own hands smashing your old phone with a hammer for instance but a professional electronic disposal company may be a better option. The pros will make sure that your phone, hard drive, or other device is completely destroyed, and then it will be properly recycled.

Merging Technology with Off-Grid Living

No matter how you feel about modern tracking devices, few preppers can deny that technology can help make life a little easier. Rather than working against tech, it can work for you in a number of ways. For instance, the aforementioned smartphones can keep you connected with friends and family, without even having to leave your property.

But what about hobbies? Ingenuity is yet another off-grid living essential, and modern GPS technology may give you the tools you need to thrive. You’ll find that you don’t need to dumb yourself down with syndicated programming and the banal options found on streaming services.

GPS technology can do more than simply track your location: It can also help you have fun. For instance, a popular activity with some preppers and survivalists is geocaching. Using a GPS-enabled device, you input coordinates of a hidden “cache” of virtual treasure and then work to locate it. The hobby of geocaching is a worldwide phenomenon that wouldn’t be possible without GPS technology.

When it comes to tracking devices and location services, it’s imperative that the technology protects rather than compromises your safety and privacy. GPS technology presents an interesting conundrum for every off-gridder: How can you embrace the tech while also keeping your values intact? By harnessing every aspect of GPS technology and completely destroying all old and unwanted devices, your lifestyle can peacefully coexist in a GPS-centric world.

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