About Global Positioning System (GPS)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q. What is the GPS Innovation Alliance?

The GPS Innovation Alliance seeks to protect, promote and enhance the use of GPS.

The Alliance recognizes the ever increasing importance of Global Positioning System (GPS) and other Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technologies to the global economy and infrastructure and is firmly committed to furthering GPS innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Q. Who are the members of the GPS Innovation Alliance?

Members and affiliates of the GPS Innovation Alliance are drawn from a wide variety of fields and businesses reliant on GPS. These include manufacturing, aviation, agriculture, construction, transportation, first responders, surveying and mapping. Still others are organizations representing consumers who depend on GPS for boating and other outdoor activities, and in their automobiles, smart phones and tablets.

Q. What is the policy role of the Alliance?

The GPS Innovation Alliance strives to inform policymakers and GPS users about the centrality of GPS in our nation's economy. GPS is a highly innovative, successful and increasingly ubiquitous technology that is critical to the smart infrastructure, services and applications of today, tomorrow and decades to come.

Q. Where is the Alliance headquartered?

The GPS Innovation Alliance is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and welcomes affiliates who wish to help protect, promote and further enhance one of the world's most important enabling technologies - technologies that improve the lives of people around the globe.

Q. What is the economic impact of GPS technology on the U.S. economy?

A June 2011 study found that more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs in agriculture and other industries relied heavily on GPS technology and that if use of GPS were disrupted it would pose the threat of direct economic costs of up to $96 billion to U.S. commercial GPS users and manufacturers. Given continuing innovations in the use of GPS and virtually constant increases in reliance on it, the impact would now be even greater.

Q. What else did that report say?

Conducted by Dr. Nam D. Pham of the Washington, D.C.-based NDP Consulting Group, the study states that the commercial adoption of GPS continues to grow at a high rate and is expected to annually create $122.4 billion in benefits and grow to directly affect more than 5.8 million jobs in the downstream commercial GPS-intensive industries. The study makes clear that its analysis is confined to the economic benefits of GPS technology to commercial GPS users and GPS manufacturers, mainly high precision GPS users, and the economic costs of GPS signal degradation to only those sectors. The report therefore does not capture the considerable benefits and costs to consumer users of GPS, other non-commercial users and military users.

Q. What other economic data do you have about the economic impact of GPS in the U.S.?

A December 2012 Boston Consulting Group study commissioned by Google states that the U.S. geospatial industry has an impact on the U.S. economy that is 15 to 20 times the size of the geospatial industry, an industry that generated approximately $73 billion in revenues in 2011 and is made up of at least 500,000 high-wage jobs.

The study says the 15 to 20 times economic impact ratio drives $1.6 trillion in revenue and $1.4 trillion of cost savings. Further, in what the study calls "a recognition of the many ways geo-applications and location-enabled devices are central to our daily lives," U.S. consumers place a direct annual value on geospatial services at $37 billion.

Q. What is the size of the U.S. government's investment in GPS?

The U.S. government is the largest single user of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and has invested at least $43 billion in GPS infrastructure, equipment and services, according to a compilation of the limited number of available investment estimates. The actual total figure is almost certainly significantly higher. Current and future safety and efficiency benefits from GPS total at least $132 billion.

Q. What does GPS do?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) enables users in the air, on land, or at sea to determine their precise location by receiving signals from distant satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) more than 30 years ago. The DoD continues to maintain this constellation of 24 satellites that orbit the Earth in a very predictable way, continuously transmitting signals back to Earth. GPS receivers then process the signals using trilateration and compute precise position, velocity, and timing data that helps guide a wide range of activities.

Q. What are some of the uses of GPS?

Uses of GPS include aeronautical navigation and collision avoidance, public safety dispatch and tracking, automotive navigation, precision farming, fleet management, marine navigation and harbor management, building and road construction, timing of business and financial transactions, synchronizing wireless, computing and utility networks as well as a host of other systems upon which millions of us rely every day.

Q. Where does the United States stand in terms of its place in GPS technology worldwide?

Since the first GPS satellites were launched, the system has become an indispensable and extremely reliable part of our national infrastructure. Billions of dollars in public and private investment in GPS-based technologies and services have produced a steady stream of innovations, making the U.S. the global leader in this technology sector.

The GPS industry continues to innovate at a rapid pace, and the importance of GPS is ever increasing. In recognition of the critical nature and unbounded potential of this technology, the European Union, Russia, China, and India have all committed to deployment of substantial satellite constellations similar to GPS.