The Economic Impact of GPS—and GPS Outages

A new study quantifies the economic benefits of GPS: in the U.S. alone, it estimates around $1.4 trillion in economic activity resulting from private-sector GPS use, about half of that coming from improvements in the telecommunications sector. (Roughly a quarter came from the telematics sector, and 15 percent from location-based services.) About 90 percent of those benefits have been generated in the last decade. The study also quantified the impact of a GPS outage: about a billion dollars a day, more if it occurred during planting season (agriculture has become reliant on GPS). [Ars Technica]

FAA

And speaking of GPS outages, earlier this month hundreds of flights were grounded over what appeared at first to be a GPS signal problem, but turned out to be a technical issue with GPS receivers made by Collins Aerospace. About 400 flights were cancelled on Sunday, 9 June, mostly involving Bombardier regional jets, but also other airliners and private aircraft. The FAA instructed pilots of affected aircraft to use other navigation methods; Collins says it has identified the issue and is working with the airlines. Coverage: AINonline, FlightGlobal, Forbes, GPS World, RNTF. [Jason Rabinowitz]

Cyber Squirrel 1

Cyber Squirrel 1, a map that tracks electrical outages caused by squirrels, birds, raccoons and other critters, is only semi-satirical. Its point is that animals disrupt the power grid more than hackers ever have. (The number caused by the latter may be one. Or two.) As Popular Science puts it, “If there is a cyber war happening, it’s one fought between humanity and nature, not nations against each other.” GizmodoWashington Post.