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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The new GPS signal hinted at yesterday will be called “L2C” is designed for commercial needs, which is no surprise with Galileo breathing down the world’s neck. Deputy Commerce Secretary David Sampson provided a few details at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event (full text of his statement). Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:

Global GPS sales have surpassed $20 billion a year, and will keep on growing at a healthy rate, according to industry estimates. Over 95% of GPS units sold are for civilian use.

Today we’re officially announcing deployment of another major upgrade to GPS. In September, the Air Force launched the first in a series of next-generation GPS satellites. The satellite was declared operational in December and is now broadcasting a second civilian signal that enables significant increases in accuracy and reliability when combined with the original signal.

The new signal, known as L2C, was specifically designed with commercial needs in mind. For example, it is transmitted with a higher effective power, so GPS receivers work better in urban areas and indoors. And it requires less energy to receive the signal, an important feature for battery-powered devices such as mobile phones.

In addition, the new signal is broadcast at the same radio frequency that many high-end users, such as surveyors, already leverage to boost GPS accuracy. For them, the benefit will be enhanced reliability.

I understand many thousands of units were sold over the past year in anticipation of the new signal. The fact that companies have invested in a new, unproven capability months before it was even available, speaks volumes about the commercial value of L2C.

Most of the gains will come from increased productivity.

More satellites in this constellation are expected later this year. No word in his talk about when it’ll actually be useable. But, there are more signals to which to look forward:

Looking ahead, we plan to introduce a third civilian GPS signal. This signal is designed to meet the stringent needs of airlines and other “safety-of-life” transportation, including an exclusive radio band, higher power, and greater bandwidth. The new signal also will be integrated into the national transportation system and will play a vital role in improving safety, fuel efficiency, and capacity in our airspace, railroads, and highways.

In addition, we have begun work on yet another, fourth signal. It will augment the original L1 signal. We are working with Europe, Japan, Russia, and other nations to make this signal an open, international standard. This would result in dramatic improvements in the performance of GPS in cities and other areas.


by Adena Schutzberg on 01/25 at 05:36 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Web User (UK)  reports that Google Earth is in the top ten Web searches for the past four weeks accordign to HitWise, a company that keeps such stats. Searches for the term have increased 20 times since October. Says a HitWise analyst: the growth of Google Earth seems to be viral, spread by personal recommendation.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/25 at 07:23 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“Describe [...] to your Uncle Harry who asks you at Christmas dinner what GIS [geographic information systems] is.”

Nicole L. Ernst, geospatial technology instructor and coordinator at Harrisburg Area Community College, describing one of her student’s first assignments, as described in the Patriot-News.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/25 at 07:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Platial‘s founder describes it as “putting the human stain on the world.”

Jacob Olsen graduated from Portland State University (that other PSU) in marketing and management and in 2005 launched the company which “enables people to document experience through geography.” The whole story of the company is in the Portland State University Vanguard and includes these tidbits of interest:

Platial is a partner with ESRI.
Platial is drumming up financial support in the business world.
Platial supports a PSU intern.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/25 at 06:53 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Yellow Arrow and other “mobile social software” (free registration may be required) are profiled in an article that uses the term Geosptial Web.

To the extent that the programs are successful, they are birthing a hybrid that cognoscenti call the geospatial Web, the Internet overlaid on the real world.

The Times, as one might expect, does a fine job explaining the difference between Yellow Arrow, where a passerby sees a Yellow Arrow sticker and keys in a number, with passive location awareness, where carriers know where the handset is all the time, via GPS or other technology.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/25 at 06:36 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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