Opinions

Prince’s death highlights 911 location issues

June 9, 2016By

By Tracy Cozzens Managing Editor Prince’s death on April 21 highlights a fatal flaw in the United States’ antiquated 911 emergency system. When you call from cell phone, 911 doesn’t automatically know where you are. 911 often can’t determine the location of an emergency, even when the call for help comes from a GPS-equipped smartphone. Often the 911 operator can only... read more

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Iridium and GPS revisited: A new PNT solution on the horizon?

June 8, 2016By
Replica of Iridium satellite. (Photo courtesy of Iridium)

How many times have you heard of a nearly 20-year-old space constellation being modified with a new technology? It almost never happens. Get the details on Iridium's new Satellite Time and Location System. read more

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OS providers: 800-pound gorillas in PNT jungle

June 7, 2016By

It’s funny sometimes how things work out. I had just been preparing to take up in this column an issue raised last September at the ION-GNSS+ Plenary Session. Literally at the very moment I set pen to paper, notice of an extremely positive response to the problem arrived in my inbox. Hypercoincidental as it may be, market forces can and... read more

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Establishing orthometric heights using GNSS — Part 7

June 2, 2016By
Figure 1. Leveling Network Design Used in the General Adjustment of the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (Figure 3 from the report).

Basic procedures and tools for determining valid NAVD 88 heights for constraints To date, the six parts of “Establishing Orthometric Heights Using GNSS” have provided the reader with basic concepts, routines and procedures for understanding, analyzing, evaluating and estimating GNSS-derived ellipsoid and orthometric heights. In Part 5 of this series, we discussed National Geodetic Survey’s NGS 59 guidelines and methods for evaluating the results... read more

GNSS jam-proof test range ready for customer testing

May 25, 2016By
Locatalite transceiver installation in the White Sands Missile Range Ultra High-Accuracy Reference System, provided by the U.S. Air Force for testing equipment under conditions of GPS jamming.

A new dimension in real-world PNT testing has arrived. One of the most critical things to predict for chips, receivers and devices using alternative or back-up PNT technologies is how they will actually perform without GPS. Filling this need, the U.S. Air Force 746th Test Squadron has declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its new truth reference, the Ultra High-Accuracy... read more

AUVSI showcases Xponential growth of UAV market

May 18, 2016By
AUVSI's newly christened "Xponential" show drew together hundreds of commercial UAV products and services. (Photo: Joelle Harms, GPS World)

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) hosted another big UAV show this month. Renamed Xponential, to denote the rapid growth in unmanned systems, the May 2-5 gathering in New Orleans was up to its billing — with 8,000 attendees from 55 countries, and 650 exhibitors. The morning plenary sessions notably included a pitch from Amazon for a low-level, high-speed transit... read more

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Is reliance on GPS making us lose our mapping minds?

May 16, 2016By

By Tracy Cozzens Managing Editor I love maps. As a child, I was my family’s designated navigator on car trips (or my parents indulged me!). I studied our roadmaps, searching out each legend icon on the map and finding icons to look up on the legend. I would use the map’s indicators to determine the distance between points and interesting... read more

In defense of PNT: Multi-GNSS to the rescue

May 11, 2016By
An artist's concept of a GPS IIR-M satellite in orbit (courtesy of Lockheed Martin).

For more than 41 years, many of us who were there in the beginning have been discussing the attributes, capabilities, enabling features and shortcomings of GPS and other space-based PNT (position, navigation and timing) systems. You have likely heard most of them; historically they go something like this: The signal is weak. The signal is easily jammed. The signal can be... read more