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Home arrow Experts arrow Learon Dalby arrow GISuser Expert feature - GPS - The Blessing and The Curse     

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GISuser Expert feature - GPS - The Blessing and The Curse PDF Print E-mail
Experts - Learon Dalby
Written by Learon Dalby   
21 January 2011
1990s- Wonder if anyone knew how much GPS would become a part of everyday life?

My agency has worked with counties for nearly 10 years to develop a statewide road centerline file. The primary creators of the county files are county 911 officials. These are the same people that answer the call when 911 is dialed. A common question is; “We completed our road centerline some time ago, why does this GPS have the wrong road names, not show the road, and/or send me to the wrong address?”

There have been numerous articles written related to individuals following GPS directions, making a wrong turn and misfortunes happening. We decided to dig deeper into the issue so we could answer question from constituents. Consider the following:

* Most GPS manufacturers, purchase the road data from another source

* Road data sellers generally focus on urban areas, GPS units are used everywhere

* Even if road data providers update their database with local data, the GPS manufacturer must update their data

* Even if the GPS manufacturer updates their data, the GPS consumer must know to update their GPS

The point is the road data displayed on a GPS unit is constantly out of date for a number of reasons. I find the last reason the GPS consumer must know to update their GPS the most difficult to overcome. We live in a time where our desktops, laptops, smart phones and other devices receive notifications or ‘pushes’ without the user having to do anything. At a minimum, users notified a change or update is available. Typically, this is not true of a GPS unit. Most, but not all, GPS units do not notify the user there are updates. The GPS units (I am aware of) that do notify users of updates only do so after being plugged into a computer connected to the internet.  I do not think my dad would know he needed to plug the GPS unit into his computer to get updates. I mean after all, he just bought the device.

So with all the good GPS has brought us, there still seems to be a lack of consumer education and possibly a technology gap. I feel sure the industry will fill the gap in time. Until then, we should all be educated about the possible reasons why the roads may not exist on the GPS unit but is clearly visible out the front window.

Related Weblinks:

Learon Dalby serves as the GIS Program Manager for the Arkansas Geographic Information Office (AGIO). He began his career with the AGIO in 2000 where he is responsible for managing a number of statewide programs. You can follow him on Twitter @learondalby

Last Updated ( 24 January 2011 )
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