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Effects of GPS on Human Life
Part 1: Introduction and Background to issue or subject of discussion
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite guided navigational system. The system by itself allows user/ devices to calculate their latitude, longitude and altitude of their current location no matter where they are situated in the globe.
To think back, before the GPS came into existence, dead reckoning and pilotage was utilized to get around and locate airports. Pilotage is the use of sectionals (air maps/charts) and physical landmarks along the route to keep you on course. An example would be following a highway or railroad track or pipeline. Additionally the Government began to simply paint names of towns on roofs of barns, buildings, water towers, gas storage tanks, and hangers. But all this technique lacked accuracy and were not considered reliable. A pilot can completely be off track as of a heavy weather change as his visibility can be negligible.
The idea of GPS can be traced back to centuries where a person might have asked the question of Where am i. GPS came into existence on the year 1978, when Russia launched Sputnik into space. MIT researchers noticed that radio signals from sputnik could determine distinct positions on the ground as the radio signal was at its peak when satellite was over MIT and gradually weakened as it moved away. Thereby they were able to calculate the orbit of satellite which was the foremost important step towards GPS system. Between 1978 and 1985, eleven satellites were launched into space and put into position. In 1983, the GPS ceased being solely a military system and was made available for public use.
To be able to locate position down to almost 30 metres of a GPS unit, at least 3 satellites will be required. More the number of satellites more are the accuracy. Each satellites revolving around earth has its own unique signal broadcast. All these signals are stored within a GPS unit. The signal has enough data for the unit to know the satellites current location and also it calculates the time that signal (radio wave) took to travel from satellite to the unit. By repeating this with minimum 2 more satellites, the unit is able to triangulate the position of GPS unit. By communicating with more satellites it can give much more accurate position, which can be as close as 1 or 2 metres.
Hereafter I shall provide as much examples and incidents to bring out the positive effects of GPS technology into our life than rather a privacy killer of our society.
Part 2: Identification of why you choose this issue/subject to study
The reason for choosing GPS as my subject to study is as my final year project also involves GPS related technology. Therefore researching on for this subject will surely benefit my final year project as well. Additionally my friends experience with GPS also made me to finalize on the area of subject. He never left home country for anything and when he finally did leave for working to United States, upon returning back to home country after 4 years he was completely lost and not able to even get to his house. Initially i found it just as a funny story but later when thought on it i began to see future public depending blindly on GPS that they forget to think using their common sense. This was really disturbing on my behalf and decided i should take this opportunity to at least make my friends be aware of what is happening around them.
Part3: What the implications may be for a post modern industrial society?
Only through the discovery of GPS technology has travelling feel safer to public. GPS made it easier for public and public transport. This is because before GPS, flights/ ships did lose their way and the world did witness such tragedies. It is very clear that without the invention of GPS, human technology as it is would not have been so easy and reliable. This is only as there is no other technology which is as reliable, accurate and cheap like that of GPS.
In todays post modern society with computing flourishing and being a part of basic necessity, GPS has its own crucial role. For instance even though computers are used everywhere even in aircrafts, they would not be able to use autopilot if its not for the GPS satellite feeds. GPS as it is provides absolute convenience to humans since the world is becoming smaller and smaller as of technological advancement is made.
Before GPS was open to the public for free usage, people were depending on rather non reliable and non accurate methods to travel around. As the famous quote goes, Necessity is the mother of invention, humans realised and needed a cheap and reliable alternative to the traditional methods of calculating latitude, longitude and altitude. There is no doubt when saying society benefits from this technology in many ways, including safer, more reliable travel and an increase in human safety.
Control of GPS by U.S
In todays advanced world GPS is one among the most relied technologies. Whether it is to locate/ track or find your way to a new place, it all requires satellites. GPS satellites which are always revolving around the earth in and around 12 hours are not replaceable as of today.
At present almost all such satellites or rather artificial moon is owned by U.S military. Which means they have un-denied access to these technology. With the United States having such control over one of the most relied technology in todays world comes good and bad. This means that they have the capability to everything, from reducing the accuracy to shutting down GPS facility in areas around globe whenever they want. If there is to be another world war, United States clearly has a very powerful position over the world. They can not only keep track of their soldiers but get a complete overview of everything and thereby a tactical advantage. With the use of absolute accuracy of GPS satellites they can easily guide unmanned long range missiles to drop exactly where they want. This is only as the world is becoming increasingly reliant on GPS technology.
Part4: What the implications may be for the IT industry?
It is clear of the impact of GPS on our industry. It has changed the way people communicate and live. GPS has made our environment a safer and easier place to live. GPS has provided people with many solutions to their problems. Today different industries utilize GPS to develop new innovative solutions to human problems.
It is currently being used to help parents find and keep track of their childrens. Devices are also on pet collars that can help you track your pets if they are stolen or lost. Additionally it is also used to keep track of dangerous criminals activities and thereby keep public safe from these criminals who could harm anyone.
GPS device is available almost all new cell phones released which is able to provide assistance to people in mapping and getting directions. It can even help rescuers help you easily as they will know were exactly you are. Truck drivers in the UK are now being made aware of upcoming low bridges using GPS and digital maps. This combined with awareness of traffic jams, and suggestions of alternative routes allows for the cheaper delivery of goods. These are just some of the main things that GPS has added to our society by the industry.
GPS technologies accuracy and reliability has its own drawbacks too. With satellites being able to accurately target devices to as close as few inches, modern warfare has drastically changed around us. GPS greatly contributes to the effectiveness of warfare. With its endless applications such as being able to track a soldier, determine his used path to developing highly effective long/ short range missiles, GPS has a deadly side of its own too. In the case of missiles, GPS technology aids in an increased chance of hitting the desired target. GPS also allows for accurate tracking of military units which increases the effectiveness and level of tactical control during combat.
Computers have been the most revolutionizing technology that humans developed to help in their tasks. Literally today there is no place or field that computers have not touched. The computers which are available and being used in transportation whether its an Airbus or a small car driving off road, without the GPS satellites feed the onboard computers will not be able to guide you through or prevent an accident.
As Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, Fords Chief Technical Officer and Vice President, Research and Advanced Engineering says A satellite orbiting the earth could someday prevent an auto accident. We applaud the Auburn team for these advancements and look forward to working together on the next phase of this research, including developing prototype vehicles.
GPS has become an integral part of our society, affecting our lives in many ways. The great range of applications of this technology has an impact on many aspects of society. GPS is becoming more widely used and more important in society. The importance of GPS is further stressed by the absence of a successful alternative.
Even though few might point out that dependency on GPS is going to lead to unbalanced levels of political power, which if abused could lead to adverse effects on society. I strongly believe that GPS is a marvellous technology, revolutionizing navigation in virtually every industry that it touches from large corporate mass transportation to a family on a road trip. It is very safe to conclude that GPS has done well to human race than drawbacks. The drawback as it is seen can easily be overcome if the humans are taught to utilize GPS for their good and not in any way to harm them.
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