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New Report Reveals Economic Benefits from Private Sector Use of GPS

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A study of the economic benefits of Global Positioning System (GPS) shows 10 key industries generated $1.4 trillion since GPS was made available for private-sector use in 1983. About 90 percent of this figure accrued after 2010.

The 10 private-sector industries measured include agriculture, electricity, finance, location-based services, mining, maritime, oil and gas, surveying, telecommunications and telematics.

The comprehensive study released today was conducted by RTI International (RTI), a nonprofit research institute, and commissioned by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“Hundreds of millions of users rely on GPS every day from people driving to some place new to multinational corporations coordinating complex logistics networks,” said Alan O’Connor, Director of Innovation Economics at RTI. “What is sometimes lost is the real economic benefits relating to GPS. Improved navigation reduces miles driven. We are still realizing the full potential of GPS functionality.”

In addition to discovering economic impacts, the study presents an analysis of the potential economic damages from a GPS outage, as well as federal activities and technology that helped the development and deployment of private-sector GPS use.

Though uncommon, a GPS outage could potentially have an economic impact of $1 billion a day. The study also found that economic impacts vary according to industry, time of year and point in the outage cycle. For example, if an outage occurred during critical planting seasons for farmers, the impact could be as high as $45 billion. To date, GPS outages have lasted less than one day.

“This study shows the substantial value the United States can create from its investment in research and development,” said Walter G. Copan, Under Secretary for of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director. “When GPS was made available for civilian use, no one could have imagined how much our economy and daily lives would come to depend on it. Today’s R&D has untold potential, which is why we must ensure that the Nation has effective policies and practices that support the efficient transfer of innovation from the lab to the market.”

Click here to view a full copy of the report.