Tech Tuesday

New Alliance has GPS Focus

New group, which includes some familiar farm names, has aim to promote and innovate long-standing technology.

We've all come to rely on GPS, often in ways we never thought we would. Sure the pretty "landlord" farm yield maps were grand, but auto-steering is far grander. The tech is so common these days it has become natural to just say "I'll just use my GPS" when someone talks about driving to another location.

That whole infrastructure was threatened in 2011 when LightSquared issued its plan to fire up a series of ground stations that would offer universal broadband, but work at a frequency so close to that GPS signal that there would be problems. The Save Our GPS coalition went to work to share the news that firing up that new network would be a challenge.

This month a new group - the GPS Innovation Alliance - got it start. Made up of a "group of GPS advocates" the organization will be dedicated to "furthering GPS innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship." Alliance members include a range of businesses that rely on GPS including manufacturing, aviation, agriculture, construction, transportation, first responders and surveying and mapping.

Based in Washington, D.C., it's announcement release notes it will "build on the proud heritage and extensive expertise of the United States GPS Industry Council, which was formed in 1991 to promote broader commercial applications of GPS and to expand global markets while assisting in safeguarding the technology's military advantages."

Two USGIC members - NovAtel and Topcon Positioning Systems, will be joined by John Deere, Garmin and Trimble as founding members of the new Alliance. Some key associations are also affiliate members including the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (which covers farm and construction equipment), General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The announcement release includes quotes from key founding members all focused on "protecting, promoting and enhancing the use of GPS, both now and well into the future," notes Mark N. Lewellan, spectrum manager, John Deere, in his comment.

This group will also be tracking government agencies as they look at innovations and technologies that may in some way interfere with GPS - just as LightSquared's tech threatened to do. The Washington, D.C. location is no accident, having a voice on Capitol Hill is important.

You can learn more about the group at its website - www.gpsalliance.org/

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