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GPS or bust

Ravi Gupta

In the age of rapidly growing demand for accurate and up to date spatial data GPS has emerged as a savior. This technology is giving its user a simple and easy way to know where you are. This technology is taking the concepts of geography, surveying, mapping to places. This revolutionary technology of finding your location is opening up newer and newer applications of geography.

Thanks to the GPS technology, the transport and logistics companies, courier companies, the railways, the steel manufactures; all are looking at some type of GIS and remote sensing applications in their organisations. These are the places where GIS or remote sensing on its own would have reached with much difficulty. GPS is expanding and perhaps redefining the GIS applications and providing the customers the so-called ‘delight’ in using a GIS.

In spite of all its benefits, many see GPS as a threat to world security. The Russian navigational satellite programme GLONASS is in trouble after the disintegration of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Europe is very much skeptical about the GPS and is planning (again and again) to launch its ‘more precise’ and ‘more open’ Galileo programme.

Most of the Asian countries are smaller and are not in a position to launch there own set of navigational satellites. They are perhaps following the policy ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. GPS is being used extensively in this region and its applications are rising unabated in Asia, as was clear from the Asian GPS Conference recently held in New Delhi. GPS is emerging as a savior in Asia, since many countries in this region are still not able to get out of the antediluvian policies relating to geographic information, and hence the users have no choice but to use a combination of GPS and high-resolution remote sensing technologies to prepare up to date and accurate maps for various applications.

Recently the Indian government has made laws to restrict the GPS usage in the country and put it in the sensitive items list. It means that one has to procure special license to use GPS and prove to the government that s/he has a genuine usage for procuring a GPS. This has come as a big blow to the GPS industry and scientists in India and is bound to suffocate the growth of this technology in India and reduce its competitiveness in the global market.

When will we learn?

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