Document Type

Closed Project

Publication Date

Winter 2002


Dundar Kocaoglu

Course Title

Management of Engineering and Technology

Course Number

EMGT 520/620


Global Positioning System -- Forecasting, Global Positioning System -- Technological innovations, Technology -- Management, Engineering management


Global Positioning System (GPS) Technology is one that may be considered "silenf' in its nature, existing in relative obscurity to the general public until roughly 1984. That is the year when the emphasis of it switched from strictly military applications to the first civilian and commercial applications. Even until 1991, given the relatively low exposure in limited surveying and navigation applications, the public was still unaware of its importance. Not until the Gulf War began between the U.S. led coalition against Iraq highlighted "smart weapons systems", exemplified by the Cruise missile that are guided by the GPS embedded technology, did the general public and civilian/commercial market leaders awaken to it's great potential. Since that time GPS technology has been applied in many industries, and has been one of the key factors supporting many innovative products and services that are vital in today's economy.

GPS technology is a spatial information technology that is integrated into the larger "superhighway of information" that has swept the globe in the last two decades. It is a precise technology that is satellite and land based, coordinated to provide accurate three-dimensional locations, absolute timing, and velocity of a given object on or in orbit around the earth. The U.S. GPS technology system is highlighted in this paper, and discussions of the existing Russian GLONASS system, and other global efforts in this technology field are examined to illustrate the great depth of its penetration into the information age. This paper will present: the history to date of applied GPS; an overview of the base and innovative GPS related technologies; a consideration of the strong world market for GPS products; four case studies from military and commercial application fields; a review of the latest policy issues affecting GPS evolution; and, the conclusions reached from the authors research and evaluation. With much gratitude, this includes the results of a survey based questioning of three local firms (direct GPS users) and an international research and development leader in the GPS field, which assisted us in drawing inferences on the position of GPS in ifs "S-Curve". These are included in Appendices A and B.

Essentially, GPS technology has been found to be in its exponential growth stage of the "S-Curve", which may not be surprising given its relative "youth" in civil and commercial applications. A review of industry literature revealed to the authors that not only are new innovations occurring directly in GPS technology, but it is also an exciting component in the many innovative applications in related industries. The future of GPS is stronger than ever, and it's most ardent proponents are pushing for an even higher profile and importance in military and civilian sectors. This will remain the subject of significant debate in the near future. GPS's position is solid in many national infrastructures, regardless of any official status it receives, since it is relied upon as an invaluable tool protecting countries, providing safe travel by air, increasing productivity throughout the business world, and providing an innovative base into the heart of this century.

Replacement technologies are a fact of the "S-Curve" life-cycle, but there is not currently a full fledged competitor that may signal its demise, and therefore the future is one of growth and further successes, may they be silent or not.


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