Recently, the Xinjiang authorities have requested that all vehicles be equipped with GPS tracking units. Indeed, in the last few years, Xinjiang, located in the Northwest of China, has been the target of terrorist attacks including bombing and deadly assaults with bladed weapons.
Cars are the main means of transport used by the militants and that is why tracking units would help the police to localize any suspicious itinerary or gathering. Furthermore, any stolen car—possibly by a terrorist—will be easier to find.
Authorities have taken drastic measures in the battle against terrorism: last year the police made citizens provide DNA samples and biological information when applying for travel identity papers. And now, drivers located in the Bayingol area who refuse the installation of the tracker will not be able to buy fuel. Xinjiang is in a critical situation, but the GPS system should help the government to solve the crisis.
The GPS tracking units will use the satellite navigation system BeiDou. In fact, nowadays, satellite navigation systems are frequently used, for personal and public purposes. Think about Google Maps, everyone uses it; GPS navigation software plays a big part in our daily lives.
Companies and public organizations can use this technology to improve their efficiency. And as far as the national security is concerned, governments might think about this technology. Tracking units are efficient tools, they can help the police, law enforcement agencies, fire brigades and ambulances to manage their work more effectively.
Technology these days has the power not only to boost efficiency but, as we see in this case, also to tighten security in times of civil unrest. Though we hope not to be involved in a case where this level of state vigilance is deemed necessary, we would rather use GPS tracking mainly to prevent theft or locate stolen vehicles as well as in other instances where safety is a consideration, such as drivers caught in an emergency situation.