Designers of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System might had expected the space network would garner a wide variety of users, but disciplinary inspectors of the People's Liberation Army sound like an unlikely client.
At least one PLA unit has begun to use Beidou in its efforts to curb corruption and the misuse of public assets thanks to the system's strong positioning capability.
According to PLA Daily, a ground-to-air missile brigade under the PLA Western Theater Command has Beidou devices installed in its cars to track driving routes. Wherever the cars go, their whereabouts are submitted in real time to an orbiting satellite and transferred to the brigade headquarters.
In early May, an officer escorting a small delivery asked the driver to make a detour to handle a personal affair. Within minutes after the car left the planned route, the officer received a call from inspectors at the brigade requesting an explanation.
The use of Beidou is aimed at regulating issues that could lead to disciplinary violations, brigade commanders told PLA Daily.
In the past, official cars at some PLA units were loosely managed and some officers used those vehicles for personal purposes, which caused huge losses of public funds, earlier reports said.
The brigade is not alone in using Beidou to monitor its cars. Several local governments, including Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Yueyang, Hunan province, also use the space-based network to manage their vehicles.
"Beidou has proved an effective tool to prevent the misuse of public assets, because it can truthfully record and report every move made by a car, plane or ship," said a researcher of PLA personnel management surnamed Li.