On May 1, 2000, President Bill Clinton presented a statement regarding the United States’ decision to allow civilians accurate GPS that were previously restricted to the U.S. military.
Students at BYU-Idaho may not remember a time without personal GPS on their phones. However, many students may remember printing out turn-by-turn directions and reading them to their parents on the way to their destination.
The statement specified that civilians would be able to pinpoint a location ten times more accurately than their resources currently allowed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Now, 17 years later, anyone with a phone can track his or her friends, pinpoint exact locations and send locations to others.
The decision tried to implement several policy goals included with the statement. One was to promote safety and efficiency in transportation, according to the FAA.
But GPS evolved from more than just printout directions.
In 1978, the Department of Defense launched the first navigation system with timing and ranging, but the 24-satellite system only became fully functional in 1993, according to nasa.gov.
Although GPS was originally a military tool and is still an integral part of military operations today, it now has important uses in other operations.
Statista.com published that more than two billion people have smartphones throughout the world. All smartphones have GPS apps to help people to get to places.
According to gps.gov, GPS is now used to increase productivity in the economy — which includes farming, construction and mining — as well as synchronize major communication networks such as banking, systems, financial markets and power grids.
GPS also saves lives by limiting traffic accidents and allowing emergency transportation and search and rescue parties to efficiently reach their destinations.
GPS is responsible for important advancements students use every day.
Next time students take a road trip with their friends, they may want to remember without the decision Clinton announced 17 years ago, they would be trying to navigate with a map.