My goal is to post a couple times a week. I will be linking and discussing news articles or current events in the world of GIS.
These first two news bites are a little old, but I think that they are still pretty interesting.
Cellphone network upgrades make location tracking almost as precise as GPS - FierceGovernmentIT
It looks like the large scale installation of cell towers across the country has increased precision of network based positioning approaching traditional satellite based methods. This is great news. Satellite based GPS has issues with penetrating dense canopy or building cover. Network based GPS does not suffer that issue. Once network tracking becomes more precise responses to emergency situations will be quicker since they can locate through large buildings.
Mobile data collection will soon be as close to precision as stand alone GPS receivers. This will increase productivity in most industries that rely on field collected spatial data as people can field record using tablets and other mobile devices. I ran an experiment in cloud based real time recording on my phone a few weeks ago when I was on vacation in Idaho. I recorded several outdoor locations and noted precision within a few feet. I also recorded locations inside buildings. Those positions ranged from 3 feet (when near large windows) to 20 feet when in big box concrete buildings. This is great precision and in a few years it will be more than adequate for the needs of most GPS users. We should also see an increase in WiFi positioning. It was unheard of just a few years ago, but these days many businesses and organizations provide free WiFi access. The technology exists already to provide positioning off of those signals so it is only a matter of time.
$2.9B in smart grid investment yields $6.8B in economic output, DOE says
SmartGrid is a system where computers are installed in utility systems to regulate and monitor the functionality of that utility. It eliminates the need for meter checkers and speeds up outage or reduced service issues. As the systems expand it will increase system efficiency and keep service costs down. I have heard of people proposing that it can even throttle the service up or down based on usage needs of neighborhoods during the day. As people in one suburban community head to the city center the system automatically reduces the amount of service that neighborhood has and redirects it to the city center. This could be great news if we want to take a serious attempt at reducing consumption of utilities.
I have not read the DOE report, but if it is correct, or even marginally correct, then this program was a good investment of federal funds. It shows how a properly applied program can reduce costs and service outages. It also tests technology that can be adapted and applied to other industries in the private sector. We really have to get going on programs like this if we are going to put a dent in our consumption.