INTERESTING USES OF GPS
It is well recorded that the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system is used for many purposes, from providing location accuracy for major construction projects to helping farmers plan and optimize management of harvesting operations, to tracking the meltdown of glaciers and even to help police track stolen vehicles. We have stumbled on some more unusual uses of GPS.
The Polk County, Florida school district uses GPS to keep track of its school buses. In addition to tracking the movement of the buses, the GPS tracking has come in handy for resolving disputes with parents by proving that buses are arriving at their stops on time. No longer can children hide until the bus drives past them and then tell their parents that the bus never showed up. With the GPS system the school district can show exactly when the bus was at the stop. No more blaming the driver when you are playing hooky.
Farmers are always trying to find ways of increasing their revenues. One new way is to create a maze. In Sunderland, Massachusetts, one farmer has created mazes that look like the Mona Lisa, Kerry and Bush, and the chef Julia Childs. He charges people to enter and experience the maze. He would not have been able to do this without the help of GPS receiver and a geographic information system (GIS). GPS and GIS technology helps the farmer create his elaborate designs that are well fitted to his corn field, by taking into account the size and shape of the field and the amount of detail in the maze design.
Forsyth County Health Officials in North Carolina are using GPS to track mosquito problem areas. With the help of GPS they can keep watch on the wetlands and swampy areas as they either dry up or fill up, which in turn triggers the mosquitoes.
Of course, it often takes an artist to be come up with a creative way of using GPS. English artist Christian Nold uses GPS devices and sensors used in lie detector tests to create “emotional maps.” In San Francisco he outfitted over a hundred volunteers with these two devices and told them to wander the neighborhoods. Using GPS he is able to determine where and when the polygraph recorded a quickened heartbeat or an elevated blood pressure. He then asks the volunteers to recount what they experienced at specific locations when the polygraph reacted unusually. Nold downloads this information into a computer and comes up with a display showing where the volunteers had the most highs along with their comments. “By interpreting and annotating this data, communal emotion maps are constructed that are packed full of personal observations which show the areas that people feel strongly about and truly visualize the social space of a community,” says Nold. To see his maps go to his website ahttp://biomapping.net/ .