The Global Positioning System: Assessing National Policies

The Global Positioning System: Assessing National Policies

The Global Positioning System: Assessing National Policies

The Global Positioning System: Assessing National Policies


A comprehensive assessment of the challenges and opportunities created by worldwide access to this revolutionary technology.


National interests and stakeholders in GPS policy

GPS satellites may be thought of as accurate, stable "clocks in space" that bathe the earth with a weak, consistent time signal. These radio waves allow receivers to passively calculate where they are and what time it is by comparing the signals of multiple satellites in the same constellation. GPS is a sophisticated space system developed and operated by hundreds of highly trained people; it is also a technical innovation that is transforming many diverse areas of human activity. in one sense, GPS is a model dual-use technology in which a military development leads to civil and commercial benefits beyond what was originally intended for the program. in another sense, GPS is a commercially driven information technology, like high-speed data networks and mobile communications, which is affecting the nature of national and international security.

This chapter provides an overview of the many interests affected by the Global Positioning System and those who may be considered stakeholders in GPS policy-that is, groups whose interests are so affected by GPS and GPS technologies that they will seek to shape GPS policy. the chapter is divided into three major sections. the first describes various national interests that are affected by gps. the second section describes the range of views about GPS to be found in U.S. and foreign organizations, both public and private. in some cases, a single national interest is represented by one organization, such as national security in the case of the U.S. Department of Defense. in other cases, an agency may have multiple interests -- the U.S. Department of Commerce is concerned with a mixture of GPS security, scientific, and commercial issues. the third section reviews current U.S. policy commitments with respect to GPS and key, future policy decisions that will need to balance the stakeholder interests described in the chapter.

The views of U.S. government agencies and industries, foreign governments and industries, and international organizations should be considered in the U.S. formulation of GPS policy. in part, this is because there is no single source of expertise on GPS matters, and a variety of views are needed for a complete picture of potential problems. Perhaps more pragmatically, the effective im-

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