Op-ed | GPS Offers Lessons for the Infrastructure of Tomorrow

With the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act final month, lawmakers are on the cusp of bringing lengthy awaited funding to modernize our nation’s infrastructure. These investments, which embrace funding for roads and bridges, in addition to broadband, electrical automobiles, and transit, are sorely wanted and can present a powerful base to develop the U.S. financial system and modernize our nation’s infrastructure.

Many have remarked that this infrastructure bundle seems to be very completely different than these proposed in previous many years. That is for good cause. As we speak’s transportation, agriculture, and development for instance are all linked by a standard underlying function: reliance on superior expertise which boosts effectivity and sustainability. The following iteration of sensible infrastructure may even be expertise primarily based – together with geospatial information, analytics and information, IoT tech, and AI – and it’s crucial that authorities leads on investments in these important applied sciences. 

The World Positioning System (GPS) represents the epitome of sensible authorities funding. Initially developed to help U.S. army operations, GPS has advanced into one of the crucial extensively used applied sciences of our time, touching practically each side of society’s infrastructure from aviation and rail, to wi-fi broadband and the electrical grid. The truth is, GPS expertise will play a outstanding position within the deployment of infrastructure outlined within the legislative bundle, together with mapping places for electrical automobile (EV) chargers, enabling safer, extra environment friendly operation of development automobiles, and offering the exact timing wanted to carry wi-fi broadband to unserved and underserved communities, simply to call a number of. 

Although the GPS system is sustained utilizing public {dollars} (roughly $1.7 billion yearly), it gives a platform that has unlocked the creativity of the personal sector, leading to an estimated $1 billion per day in financial advantages for the U.S. financial system. As we speak, a number of the extra progressive makes use of of GPS are people who work along with different rising applied sciences, thereby enabling smarter, extra environment friendly performance.

Take precision agriculture, for instance, which for the previous 20 years has used GPS information to permit farmers to map their fields and extra exactly information their gear, thereby resulting in extra environment friendly meals manufacturing and higher environmental sustainability. Now, paired with enhancements in wi-fi broadband, AI, and cloud computing, precision agriculture is getting into the following part of innovation. GPS-guided tractors and combines with centimeter-level accuracy have change into extra subtle by analyzing information gathered within the area and creating soil/yield mapping methods that save farmers money and time. Variable charge expertise (VRT) methods can use information from sensors or GPS to differ the applying of seeds, fertilizer and pesticides primarily based on historic information, lowering waste of important inputs. Irrigation additionally improves with methods that map fields and curve rows in order that rainwater may be directed for pure irrigation, reducing water utilization by 4 %, with the potential to lower water utilization a further 21 % via higher adoption.

The development of roads, bridges, and buildings is one other space of infrastructure that has benefited enormously from correct, dependable, and resilient GPS. The painstaking and time-consuming strategy of gathering measurements for planning, design, and development that has been used for generations is more and more being changed with digital development applied sciences, together with GPS, that improve machine productiveness, cut back rework, and might decrease challenge supply prices by as a lot as 30 %. Recognizing these advantages, the Senate-passed infrastructure bundle offers $20 million to speed up the implementation and deployment of superior digital development administration methods. GPSIA applauds congressional leaders for adopting this provision, which demonstrates what is feasible once we “scale up” using current expertise and deal with enabling the infrastructure of tomorrow.

As Congress considers further funding alternatives, together with the reconciliation course of and upcoming appropriations payments, GPSIA encourages extra of those forward-thinking investments — investments within the applied sciences of tomorrow — that can be crucial to making a extra environment friendly and sustainable society for years to return. 

David Grossman is government director of the GPS Innovation Alliance.


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