Chapter 15. United States Opening GPS for Civilian Use

Creating a Global Public Utility

Summary: The Global Positioning System (GPS) has had a major impact on both business and society—with estimated losses reaching $96 billion were the system to be somehow discontinued. GPS is a U.S. government-owned technology that provides military and civilian users with positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services. The system was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1978 and originally restricted to military use. Following the Korean Airlines disaster in 1983, the Reagan administration announced that GPS would be available for civilian use. In 2000, President Clinton announced a commitment to grant civilians access to un-degraded GPS signals on par with those used by the military, and in 2007, under President Bush, the Department of Defense made that commitment permanent. Over the past 20 years, GPS technology has led to a proliferation of commercial applications across industries and sectors, including agriculture, construction, transportation, aerospace and—especially with the proliferation of portable devices—everyday life. In addition to creating new efficiencies and reducing operating costs, the adoption of GPS technology has improved safety, emergency response times and environmental quality, and has delivered many other less-readily quantifiable benefits.

Dimension of Impact: Creating Opportunity—Economic Growth ...

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