The Global Positioning System (GPS) delivers an extremely precise positioning, navigation, and timing signal to users around the world. Originally launched for U.S. military use, in the years since its signal was made available to the private sector, it has enabled innovators to develop a host of applications, services, and products. These advances have led to substantial gains in productivity, efficiency, and personal enjoyment. From people driving to some place new to multinational corporations coordinating complex logistics networks, hundreds of millions of users rely on GPS every day for navigation and positioning. Its precision timing capability supports industries as diverse as finance, electricity, and telecommunications. Even the term GPS has entered the popular vernacular to mean one’s specific location at a specific point in time. For the United States alone, we estimate that GPS has generated roughly $1.4 trillion in economic benefits (2017$) since it was made available for civilian and commercial use in the 1980s. Because of the likelihood of measurement error, we recommended interpreting this estimate as a rough order of magnitude. Most benefits have accrued in the last 10 years following rapid gains in information technologies, miniaturization and commoditization of powerful devices, and the availability of robust wireless services.
Economic benefits of the Global Positioning System (GPS)
O'Connor, A. C., Gallaher, M. P., Clark-Sutton, K. B., Lapidus, D., Oliver, Z., Scott, T. J., Wood, D. W., & Brown, E. G. (2019). Economic benefits of the Global Positioning System (GPS). RTI International.
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