DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Roach, Ronald. "Workshop highlights homeland security, energy applications. (tech briefs)."

Black Issues in Higher Education. 20.  September 2009: Student Resource Center - Gold.

Web. 9 Oct. 2009

Summary

This article describes a workshop that took place in Howard University’s Continuing Education department – the 20th Annual HBCU Summer Faculty Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Workshop.  Faculty, students, government, and private-sector experts attended the workshop, which trained in the use of GIS and GPS technologies.  The article explains the different applications of state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems, such as homeland security, health, environmental management and census analysis, and even applications used in the restoration of power during massive power outages.  The article also describes how these uses were covered during the workshop; for example, the staff conducted workshops in 3D visualization and GIS planning applications.

Application to Research

GIS is a computer mapping technology that allows users to link aerial photographs and images to digital street networks, buildings, and other elements of the built environment; therefore, the work that I am doing at APL could be considered a mixture of GPS and GIS applications.  At APL, I am mapping GPS coordinates onto Google Earth (which obviously includes elements of the man-made, built, environment), so I believe this workshop is very pertinent to my work.  (A possible product for the end of the year is some type of my own workshop, where I describe exciting things about and do hands-on activities with GPS technology).  A quote that exemplifies the use of the workshop was noted by Pamela R. Bingham, the GIS workshop coordinator: “We met to train and enhance the skills of academics and graduate students, who knew that the best presentation would be (demonstrated) as the entire country collectively witnessed critical applications of GIS technology (in) electric power restoration operations.”

"Chip Enables ‘Road User Charging’."  Design News. 64. August 2005: Student Resource Center

- Gold. Web. 9 Oct. 2009

Summary

This brief article describes an interesting new invention: the 2.5 ounce Advanced GPS Dog Locator (by Zoombak).  The new chip features a compact, water-resistant design and a long-life rechargeable battery.  Interestingly, the device does not only track the pet, but it enables users to create custom safety zones, set real-time alerts, and generate on-demand locates for their “locator-wearing pooch.”  This technology combines Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with cellular communications.

Application to Research

Although this was an incredibly interesting article to read, it also applied to my research.  Because my research also includes a compact tracking device, I wondered how similar it was to the pet-tracking device.  One notable differences that I determined was that the tracker I use needs to be charged often, while this battery is described as having a very long life (which is very convenient for its use).  Because the article was brief, I wondered many things about this device; can it, like mine, have the data points from the tracker displayed on some internet source such as Google Earth?  In other words, how can you visualize the data from the tracker (and see where your dog is/has been)?  Also, I wondered how cellular communications are used with this device.

"Chip Enables ‘Road User Charging.’"  Design News. 64. August 2009: Student Resource Center

- Gold. Web. 9 Oct. 2009

Summary

This article is about a pilot program in the Netherlands which combines GPS, wireless phone communications, and back-office server technology to track cars and charge them for road usage everywhere in the country.  This is called “Road User Charging” and it aims to prove that drivers can be charged by the number of miles they drive, as well as by the time of day and the roads that they select.  The government is hoping to expand the program to include all the country’s drivers in the future, and the idea is to “steer mobility toward environmental friendliness and to encourage fair taxing on the usage of cars.”  Using a secure website, participants in the program can see what routes they’ve taken, how much the routes cost them, and whether their choices have led to lower costs.

Application to Research

This unique article applies to my research in that it describes a very interesting and out of the ordinary use for GPS technology.  When I began reading this, I was confused as to for what reason “Road User Charging” was being implemented, and I was pleasantly surprised that it is to encourage environmental friendliness!  In addition to this technology being used for road tolling, the article also describes other possibilities of using the technology; for example, it may soon (in the Netherlands) be used in vehicles for emergency calling (such as when an airbag deploys), for use in vehicle tracking, and for use in tracing the movement of shipped goods.  A question that came up while I was reading this article is whether this fee-based technology would replace other fees, such as insurance fees or toll booth fees.

Matthews, William. "Will GPS Wear Itself Out? Experts: System Will Be Less Reliable If Older

Satellites Fail."  Defense News. May 2009: Student Resource Center - Gold. Web.  9 Oct.

2009

Summary

This article describes a problem threatening GPS; its 30 satellites are wearing out, and the new satellites being built to replace them are three years behind schedule and have more than doubled in cost (from $729 million to$1.6 billion)!  The article explains that as old satellites begin to fail, it is possible that the GPS network will be unable to provide the level of accuracy that the U.S. military needs.  GPS won’t disappear, the article claims, but there will probably be gaps in GPS service (which has an incredible amount of uses: airlines, cell phones, banks, weather forecasting and earthquake predicting are just a few).

Application to Research

This article definitely applies to my research, which centers around the uncertainties and weaknesses of GPS (and how to lessen the weaknesses).  My mentor told me, as a sort of homework assignment, to set our GPS device outside and not move it for about 10 minutes, while it records GPS coordinates every second.  He explained that when I read the coordinates on the computer or look at them on Google Earth, it will be obvious that the GPS device is not as accurate as it could be – points may range from 3-5 meters around where the device was actually placed!  It is interesting to note what may happen as GPS satellites weaken: “GPS-guided bombs may miss their targets, troops in distress may be harder to rescue, navigation may become less certain, and telling friend from foe on the battlefield may become harder.”

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.