Monday 1 June 2009

Is GPS really going to fall over?

The satellite navigation has become one of the staples of modern, hi-tech life. Using satellite navigation tools built into your car or mobile phone to find your way from A to B is one of the most basic things we are used to in our day to day activities.

But experts have warned that the system may be close to breakdown. A recent US congressional report says that the GPS system that could be on the verge of breakdown, thanks to a lack of proper investment.

The thought of the GPS not working itself is scary let alone it's a worrying possibility, not just for the Pentagon, which is having its ability to manage a complex service like GPS called into question, but for the companies that have built businesses on the solidity of the global positioning system.

As you might be aware that GPS data is made free to use by the US government, primarily with the concept of fostering the growth of the system and adoption by a wide range of companies - from the makers of in-car satellite navigation systems to high-end mobile phones, tagging the criminals and even child-locating wristwatches.

But what do they think about the possibility that GPS could fail?

The satellites are overseen by the US Air Force, which has maintained the GPS network since the early 1990s. The study by the US government accountability office (GAO) continbues to argue that mismanagement and a lack of investment in GPS technology means that some of the crucial GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as next year.

The impact on ordinary users could be significant, with millions of satnav users potential victims of bad directions or failed services. There would also be similar side effects on the military, which uses GPS for mapping, reconnaissance and for tracking hostile targets.

Among the companies that could be seriously affected is TomTom, the Dutch satnav maker that was founded in the early 1990s - around the same time as GPS went live.

The contents of the report from the government accountability office suggest that the reliability of GPS will begin to drop drastically, with at least five years of deterioration before things might get better.
However I still believe that GPS is, and remains, an excellent technology for all who use it. Although these report appears to be serious but I’m not overly concerned about this, and there is no reason to believe it will. I’m pity sure that the US government will pledge full support for GPS and will not allow it to falter.

I would be very much surprised if anyone in the US government was actually OK with letting it fail – it's too useful. Instead, the theory which is emerging now is that the worries generated over GPS are merely the push and pull of Washington politics and that the problem isn't really a serious one.The failings of GPS could also play into the hands of other countries – including opening the door to Galileo, the European-funded attempt to rival America's satellite navigation system, which is scheduled to start rolling out later next year.
Russia, India and China have developed their own satellite navigation technologies that are currently being expanded.

For the above reasons US government is taking it very seriously and it appears though are now considering to appoint organizations to monitor the development of GPS, which are good signs in terms of looking ahead to ensure GPS continues to deliver the great quality it has to so many people.

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