GPS technology is widespread and slowly integrating itself into every aspect of daily life. But it’s still not entrenched enough to call it perfunctory. The relatively old technology still makes headlines when it is used to track certain individuals, or fails to do so on other important occasions. The future, however, is clear; virtually everyone and everything can be tracked and ‘the grid’ will become harder to fall off.
The first use of the satellites orbiting the planet was to monitor something a lot bigger, and much more important: weather. The technology eventually evolved into fleet monitoring systems before becoming available as individual trackers to the public.
The most interaction people have with the GPS system is through the dashboard of their cars, or through their smart phones. It is easy to forget the vast amount of hardware and precision calculation needed to keep the system up and running. We’re talking 24 satellites constantly orbiting the Earth in such a way that there are at least three satellites hovering over every area of the planet at any given time.
These developments, of course, worry some people about the death of privacy as a logical consequence of the technology. Some people will argue that privacy has long been dead, while others bemoan the fact that institutions don’t give out enough information. It really is topsy-turvy environment, but advances in technology and its subsequent etiquette can smooth everything down.
Going back to the grid, it’s there for a reason and unbelievably it’s not to spy on you. Fleet monitoring and weather forecasts are applications of the technology that are hard to argue against, and people never do. Is it because they’re important and virtually harmless to the public? True, but that’s not the whole reason. It’s because society has hammered down a set of rules to go by whenever using such services.
For example, people understand that weather forecasts are educated guesses and don’t protest weather people for getting it wrong. Likewise, there are other considerations when applying the information provided by fleet monitoring. Is a worker constantly late because he’s lazy, or is it because of road construction on his route?
To overcome fears of privacy invasion, society needs to set basic ground rules on how to use the technology responsibly, and when it’s acceptable to overstep them. Rules keep everything together and as long as everyone’s clear, there’s no reason to fear anything.