The GPS system is something that everybody sees whilst out and about. It sees use in cars and also on iPhones, as they seem to be the widespread method of choice for those who need to know where to go.But even though the map and compass have taken a backseat, do they still have a place in modern society in the face of the GPS navigation system?
Personalisation and Portability
The screen of a GPS has developed from a few simple lines that show the user where they are, to screens will full colour, and an outline of all of the obstacles and obstructions in the surrounding area. Personalisation is now a major part of the GPS, as with all this information it’s now possible to plan routes and mark destinations down, or where the user has already been. There are even free sites where people are able to download specific routes for cycling, as is shown on this site with hundreds of UK cycle routes.
Portability has taken away the main advantage of the map and compass method of finding the way home. GPS navigation systems can now be used anywhere, and as long as it can find a satellite to connect to, then it’s impossible to ever get lost. They are easy to carry as many can just fit into a large pocket, or within a hidden backpack compartment.
It’s not all good, though, as GPS navigation has arguably penetrated too far into society. Everybody knows somebody who is constantly carrying a GPS, or who has their eyes glued to the screen in their car. That’s a symbol that society is almost totally reliant on the GPS to find its way around. And that’s dangerous because if a position is ever reached where it can’t find a satellite or it breaks, then that’s going to cause serious problems. People are forgetting how to use maps, and the greatest of conveniences could actually end up turning into society’s downfall.
It is arguable that a GPS can be a distraction for drivers, and therefore has safety implications. If a driver is intent on following the screen to see where he is meant to be going, he can lose concentration on where he actually is, and forget to observe the general principles of staying alert when behind a wheel.
A lot of people will swear unyielding loyalty to one of these things, but what most people don’t know about is the margin of error. Total accuracy has not yet been obtained and, in fact, if the navigation system is marking a location then it could actually be up to 10m away from where it truly is. It might not seem like much at all. However, if it needs to have pinpoint accuracy then the GPs owner could find themselves running around aimlessly trying to find their destination.
It’s true that GPS brings a great many benefits to society as a whole. It just needs to be remembered that they aren’t infallible.