Are We Too Reliant on GPS?

March 14th, 2011 10 Comments

Yes is the short answer, myself included.

Are we too reliant on GPS? – O’Reilly Radar

From the post:

The core issue is that GPS technology has been built into many crucial infrastructure applications, from transportation systems to power grids, and in many cases there is no fallback option should the GPS signals suddenly become unavailable. GPS has many advantages, but it is not particularly secure or robust in terms of interference, due to its relatively weak signal strength.

Case in point, the tizzy over LightSquared’s 4G LTE offering that, depending on whom you ask, could create GPS deadzones by creating interference on the weaker GPS frequency.

Ironically, I was just thinking today that turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps on Android could be the killer feature when pitted against the competition.

After all, it allows you to do one more thing with your phone, and Google has recently upped the ante by adding real-time traffic re-routing.

I suppose this question is part of the broader one, i.e. are we too reliant on technology in general? Again, yes.

 


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10 Responses to “Are We Too Reliant on GPS?”

  1. uvox Says:

    Yes, probably, however as the terrible tragedy in Japan shows, even the best designs and backup systems can be sorely tested and be found wanting.

  2. Jake Says:

    However? Aren’t you just proving the overall point that we’re too dependent on technology? While we’re on Japan, I suppose you could argue that technology is playing a huge role in assisting people affected.

    GPS needs a remake, especially given its ubiquity, not just on phones, but in other, much more critical devices.

  3. Gary Myers Says:

    I was interested in the mention of ATMs, given a recent issue in Oz.
    http://www.zdnet.com/news/bank-says-glitch-caused-atms-to-spew-cash/6199241

    It made me wonder about whether a GPS jammer could force ATMs into an offline mode which is more generous. It would increase the potential bounty of skimmed cards immeasurably.

  4. Jake Says:

    Woah, that wouldn’t be good. Or it might be, depending on perspective. Interesting.

  5. Dombrooks Says:

    As I see everyday all the idiots walking along, heads dow,n staring at their phones, seeking guidance from their GPS, turning round and around for orientation, missing all the signs and sights around themselves, I’d say that’s a big fat yes.

  6. Jake Says:

    Heh, I think I see more people texting while walking than using GPS, but yeah, same scenario.GPS is an invaluable tool when you are somewhere unfamiliar, but I’ve noticed it hinders the mind’s ability to learn its way around a new place, too much of a crutch.

  7. joel garry Says:

    Two good EMPs, and poof! I need not mention which countries have the technology, and craziness is pandemic.

    There was a big bus accident on the east coast, and the driver claims he was cut off by a truck. GPS on the truck and cameras on the bus may prove otherwise. Here is an older GPS crash story.

    In the mid-60’s, my dad invented hot-melt tape to join carpeting together – before that, sewing was the only way. So you’d move this iron along the tape, it would melt, then you put the carpet down on it. This required a certain amount of skill – a goof was permanent – so they experimented with putting metal particles in the tape – then you could line everything up, run an rf source along the seam and be done. They were testing this in a house near LAX, and after a couple of hours the FAA showed up, it was interfering with the approach radar. It doesn’t take much.

  8. Jake Says:

    You’ll be fine in your concrete bunker :)

    How many stories out of the UK have people getting stranded or driving into trees (remember that one) thanks to a blind faith in GPS?

    Interesting story about carpet tape. Love that kind of stuff. I wonder about GPS though, seems too close to a necessity for some 4G crap to interfere. What do I know.

  9. joel garry Says:

    Wish this were real: http://www.10news.com/news/18836886/detail.html#Iphone%20Hack%20Video

  10. Jake Says:

    Ha, yeah, that was pretty epic, especially the fooling bloggers and news outlets bit.

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