Transportation and Internet Mapping II

Mapping for Transportation

In the last post Transportation and Internet Mapping we discussed how the transportation industry is being effected by the mapping industry. From aviation to private automobile use, mapping is a vital part of moving people, goods, and products.

Today we use mapping to help locate properties, find our way around a neighborhood, or develop analysis of a city. Mapping can be used in a number of ways and transportation has seized this opportunity to capitalize on this market.

How transportation services use mapping software may be different from place to place but the value of the service is undeniable. We discussed the limousine business in the last post and another company we found that used a lot of good mapping technology is in Kansas City, and their business thrives on such technology.

Unlike other transportation service companies many limousine companies like Kansas City Limo uses mapping to help provide their customers with a better experience. By using internet mapping tools the drivers are able to streamline the process and develop a plan of action for the destinations with alternatives depending on current traffic and weather conditions.

This process allows the customer to arrive to their destination on time every time and allows the drivers to know the best places to pick up and drop off their guest. By using this mapping technology everyone gets benefits from the process and most likely the business just obtained a repeat customer.

The aviation industry has been using mapping technology since the dawn of the airplane. Today without air traffic control towers it would be difficult to sustain good air travel. These towers coordinate all the airlines that fly through an airport. Without these towers it would be difficult coordinate all the air traffic that happens during a typical day.

The air traffic control towers rely on mapping technology that determines the best route to take when taking off, landing and avoiding airplane collisions. This is a very demanding position that requires a lot of training and quick decisions when things don’t go as planned. Technology and in particular mapping is a vital part to help air traffic controllers do their job.

In addition to the aviation industry is rail and sea travel. Each of these areas also rely on mapping technology that helps minimize transportation issues. Sea travel is almost all done by mapping technology since it would be very difficult to navigate the waterways without some type of mapping technology. Though this was done prior to the advent of technology, mapping has helped make sea travel more efficient.

Mapping technology and transportation have gone hand in hand for decades and this trend is only continuing to grow with the advancement of better more accurate technology to help guide transportation in this country. Today our transportation industries rely on internet mapping to speed up the process and make transit more efficient.

Transportation engineers have long praised the way technology helps to make their jobs easier and more organized, and many look forward to the growth in this technology and how it can aid them in doing their jobs more productively.

Transportation and Internet Mapping

If you know anything about today’s transportation industry you know that including a GPS (Global Positioning System) within the dashboard is the norm not the exception.  Today everyone wants to have direct access to a digital mapping program to find out where they are going.  Most people have GPS style applications on their mobile phone or tablet.  So why are having them in our vehicle so important?

Well the answer to that question is simple and that is because of safety.  When we are able to get directions hands free we have a better chance of avoiding accidents and keeping our attention on the road.  Over a decade ago adding these platforms to a vehicle was not a standard thing to do just because of the pure cost of adding this device.  But as the use of this technology increased and the increase in accidents started to occur due to people not having their attention on the road, then car manufacturers were made to take a different approach to this idea.

Today these devices are normal additions to any new vehicle and they have even more features that have allowed car manufacturers to make additional money, like satellite radio, mobile phone linkage, on-board retail applications, and more.  These features allow the car manufacturer to make additional money while also providing a safer traveling environment. Many of these features also make the driving experience a little more bearable while in rush hour traffic or dealing with accidents that prevail our roads today.

Not only has personal cars made this transition, but also public passenger vehicles like buses, taxis and limousines have made the move to GPS systems as well.  Today when you catch a taxi from the airport or another location you can see them inputting the address to your destination.  Many taxi drivers still have a broad knowledge of the area where they operate, but having that extra set of eyes, or in the case of GPS, the extra technical know how, helps them avoid accidents and heavy traffic areas.

Limousines are another area where GPS systems have been used to benefit the end user.  In major cities having a GPS system in a limousine is the norm and even in mid level cities like Austin, Baton Rouge, and Charlotte, you can find limousine companies that utilize this technology.  One such company in Baton Rouge called Baton Rouge Limo Rental, they have limousine party buses that use GPS technology to help assist their drivers in maneuvering around high traffic areas to ensure they get their customers to their destination on time.

The transportation industry for the most part has made the shift to adding GPS systems to their vehicles and for the most part this has been a terrific move that has allowed more people to get to their destination faster and alleviated the problem of men not wanting to ask for directions. Let’s hope the car industry can come up with more features to lessen the number of accidents and make the driving experience more enjoyable.

Physical vs. Digital Maps: Pros and Cons

Back in the day when your author was a Boy Scout he learned how to read and use maps. I remember earning my Eagle merit badge in map reading and was proud to be able to navigate just about anywhere with my trusty Boy Scout compass and collection of regional maps. 
These were of course physical maps, the kind you could fold and put in your knapsack. They still invoke fond memories to this day, and it’s always fun to reminisce. And there is always the tendency to think that just because something is newer, it’s automatically better. But try telling that to someone with an electric can opener in a power outage!
Yes, my scouting maps were great, and they had their advantages as I will discuss shortly. But looking back I must admit that they had their limitations too. For one thing, a map might be outdated. Try looking on a map for a road that didn’t exist ten years earlier when the map was printed! Or for a small hill that might have been razed in the meantime to make way for a shopping center that didn’t exist when your map was printed 25 year earlier. These aren’t problems for digital maps that can be updated monthly weekly, daily, even in real-time.
One element I fondly recall about my scouting maps (not seen on Google maps today) was their topographic detail that included curving contour lines to show altitude. 
These lines were spaced either farther apart or closer together according to whether a particular piece of terrain was gently sloped, as in the side of a hill where the contour lines were farther apart, or deeply sloped as with the side of a mountain when the contour lines would be closely and densely packed together. 
That way when we were trekking through the forest into parts unknown, we could avoid heading in a direction that would take us straight into the path of a mountain, allowing us to skirt it instead.
Another aspect of physical maps is that they were concrete, palpable, tangible — i.e., something you could hold in your hand and relate to physically. This simply isn’t possible with a digital, electronically displayed map. 
It’s like the argument you hear today about the pros and cons of reading a book on a Kindle or other handheld reading device compared with holding an actual book in your hands. Some say that the day of the printed book will soon be over; that one day soon books will be seen as museum pieces from times gone by. 
But maybe not. For example, there has lately been a resurgence of interest — with fan clubs springing up everywhere — of (mostly) young people listening to music on (gasp!) vinyl LPs. Yes, and even finding old phonograph players to play them on. 
There are even manufacturers now making new ‘record players’ featuring an actual tone arm and stylus (don’t ask) and featuring digital circuitry that (get this) emulates the sound of analog circuitry! 
This is a classic example of cultural reversion where when something seems to have gone too far, there is social push back to return to the previous technology. Especially if it seems to be more personal, more real, and less virtual in the way that much of the world is today.
Returning to maps, there is the issue of reliability and what technophiles call ‘uptime.’ What would it take for a physical map that you can hold in your hand to:
Go offline? 
Accidentally be deleted? 
Of course the answer is that none of these things could happen. Certainly any physical object can be lost, damaged or destroyed. But barring such an unforeseen circumstance, a map would never just disappear from your hands, leaving you to wonder whether you had remembered to back it up.
Another advantage to physical maps is that they can be used anywhere, at any time. Try using a digital map application in your smart phone when you can’t access either the Internet or a local cellular service connection. Oops! 
Under these circumstances you might as well be living back in the Civil War era. Seen in that light, all modern electronic conveniences are deeply susceptible to outages, interruptions, even acts of sabotage and terrorism.
But that’s not true with my handy Boy Scout maps. The worst a terrorist could do would be to try to ignite my map with a laser from far away! But, being the good Boy Scout that I was trained to be and raised on the motto ‘Be Prepared,’  I could simply duck behind a tree!
So there you have it. Physical vs. digital. Each has its advantages. As for me, I love gadgets and I’ve got  a collection of all the latest modern gizmophile conveniences. 
But in the glove compartment of my new car, computerized as all new vehicles are with cruise control, automatic braking and built-in blue tooth wireless communications, I’ve got a couple of maps sitting there.
Just in case.

A History of GPS

The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite put fear into the hearts of American military planners. Yet ironically, it marked the beginning of a timeline that led to the Global Positioning System or GPS as we know it today. 
In 1957 Scientists working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology observed that the frequency of the radio signals transmitted by Sputnik increased as the tiny Soviet satellite got closer and decreased as it got farther away.
This was nothing other than the same Doppler Effect that makes an ambulance siren or a street car bell drop in pitch as it moves away from you.
This same effect is used by astronomers to measure the speed of entire galaxies that are rushing away from the Earth.
Since it was possible for any single receiver on the ground to detect and calculate the rate of change of frequencies from a satellite passing overhead, all it took was for the receiver to be able to communicate with two satellites a the same time to be able toe ‘triangulate’ its location on the ground. 
Add a third or even a fourth satellite and the calculation would be all that more precise. This was wonderful for the military since it meant that a guided missile like a cruise missile could be sent through an open window from thousands of miles away.
Today the GPS receiver that is built into your smart phone or the standalone GPS device sitting on the dashboard of your car can determine its location by receiving radio signals from two or more satellites (which must be in line-of-sight from the receiver) and calculating the time it takes for the signals to reach the receiver.
Since it is known exactly how far apart each satellite is from the others, it’s a simple matter to then triangulate your precise location. Modern GPS can even determine how fast you are going in miles or kilometers per hour, and it does this from a vantage point 13,000 miles above the Earth!
Today a network of 31 satellites revolve around the earth twice each day, each parked at a stationary point about the planet, allowing GPS to be used reliably by everyone for a wide variety of uses and purposes.
GPS sure has come a long way from the days of Sputnik. Here’s the timeline, and an update.
The first navigation system that relied on satellites was built by the Navy and called TRANSIT. Designed to track sub marines, the system began with six satellites and soon expanded to ten. 
The Aerospace Corporation performed a study for the U.S. military under which a network of satellites would continuously send signals to ground receivers which could then determine their exact location according to an exact set of coordinates.
Atomic clocks added a measured of greatly increased accuracy with the new Timation satellite replacing the Transit satellite.
The Air Force debuts NAVSTART featuring a 24-satellite network for the military.
After the shoot down of a Korean passenger jet, the Reagan Administration made GPS available; for civilian uses so that aircraft could avoid inadvertently wandering off course and into hostile territories.
Shortly after the Russians shot down Korean Air flight 007 after it wandered off course into Soviet airspace over the Kamchatka Peninsula, president Reagan offered to let all civilian commercial aircraft use the GPS system (once it was completed) to improve navigation and air safety.
The government contracts with private companies to develop “airborne, shipboard and man-pack (portable)” GPS receivers.
The Air Force finally places the first modern GPS satellite into orbit, launched from a Delta II rocket .
The first hand held GPS navigation device, the Magellan NAV 1000, comes to market in the U.S.
The U.S. military downgrades the accuracy of civilian GPS in order to thwart adversaries who might use it to advantage.
The 24th NAVSTAR satellite is launched, completing the modern array of geostationary satellites.
The CLinton administration informs the airline industry that GPS will continue to be offered free for use “for the foreseeable future.”
The first major revision of the GPS system is complete with 27 GPS satellites in orbit and orbiting the Earth twice daily. Four satellites are now ‘visible’ to a ground receiver at any location on earth at any time of the day or night.
The first GPS phone that is commercially available is the Benefon Esc!, manufactured by Benefon.
The deliberate degradation of GPS is ended with the system instantly becoming more accurate by a factor of ten times. This launches the explosion of vehicular GPS devices and services for both businesses and consumers.
As GPS receiver technology advances and costs drop significantly, increasing numbers of companies like Garvin begin offering a wide array of devised or consumers. 
New “assisted’ GPS technology allows cell phones to use both Cell tower triangulation and satellite triangulation at the same time, allowing the end user to pinpoint their location on the Earth’s surface within just a few feet.
The U.S. Air Force currently manages an orbital  fleet of 31 GPS satellites, plus three that remain on hold and can be activated as needed.