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GPS: Global Positioning System

“A GPS navigation deviceGPS receiver, or simply GPS is a device that is capable of receiving information from GPS satellites and then to calculate the device's geographical position.”

Like the Internet, GPS is an essential element of the global information infrastructure. The free, open, and dependable nature of GPS has led to the development of hundreds of applications affecting every aspect of modern life. GPS technology is now in everything from cell phones and wristwatches to bulldozers, shipping containers, and ATM's.

A brief History

The Modern GPS technology can be argued that it is a product of the cold war. GPS was created for military use.

In 1960, the US Navy put into service its Transit satellite based navigation system to aid in ship navigation. Between 1960 and 1982, as the benefits were been shown, the US military consistently improved and refined its satellite navigation technology and satellite system. In 1973, the US military began to plan for a comprehensive worldwide navigational system which eventually became known as the GPS (global positioning system).


GPS has in the last years been intensively used as receivers for directions and as navigations app that tells us where we are and how to move between points. They have also been used to make digital maps. However, GPS apps are not only used by civilians but also by different organizations for different purposes. 

List of some field application examples:

  • Aviation

  • Marine

  • Science

  • Surveying

  • Military

  • Financial Services

  • Telecommunication

  • Vehicle guidance

  • Transportation

  • Social activities

  • Locating positions (ie enabling location services on your phone)

  • Locating pets, & elderly.

  • Securing art

  • Personal solo travels or activities such as running

  • A LOT MORE. Can you think of any?

Ethical Concerns

In my opinion the biggest ethical concern of GPS is the one that most directly affects me and that is GPS enabled devices, like my phone, and basically having to enable location services.

More specifically, whenever you use an app with a location service — the Yelp app, for instance, to find nearby restaurants — the iPhone gets information about nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi access points, and stores the info.

Basically, your location is easily accessible by 3rd parties and it is openly shared (even though anonymous).

How dangerous can that be?

How private do you think your private life is after-all?

How much do you have to care about it?

What is the borderline line of being cautious about your footprints, and being a crazy secretive person?

Well.. Having a data file with over a year’s worth of your location information stored on your iPhone is a security risk.

So if a thief/hacker got his hands on your iPhone, he can figure out where you live and loot you there.