GNSS Data Points and Factoids to Amuse and Inform
Pacific lamprey spawning (photo by Jeremy Monroe, Fresh Waters Illustrated) (Click image to enlarge.)
Highway maps, Smithsonian loo, GPS DUI, GLONASS Shell Game, Chinese Market Share, and Lampreys!
1. PAPER CUTS
Washington, Oklahoma, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania
√ State transportation departments in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Ohio are printing fewer state highway maps, says the Associated Press. Washington did away with them entirely. Blame it on the double whammy of public sector budget cuts and smartphone, handheld, and in-car GPS. But there are lots of holdouts. As one Indiana man said, without a paper map, “You’re beholden to the GPS lady, you know?”
(July 3, 2012 Associated Press) Amid GPS Boom, Nostalgia Finds a Place
2. WHERE’S THE REST ROOM?
√ Beginning July 10, Smithsonian visitors can make their way through 17 museums and the National Zoo using a new GPS and Google indoor mobile app. It’s got step-by-step directions, distances between attractions, and a blue dot that shows where you actually are in the 2.7 million square feet of the complex. (Now, let’s see the dots that show you where your kids are...)
(July 10, 2012 Smithsonian Museums Newsdesk) Smithsonian Museums Now Mapped from the Inside Out
3. UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Lancaster and London, United Kingdom
√ Once, drivers were warned about drinking and driving. Now it’s steering while navigating. University researchers at Lancaster and London have proved that drivers following satnav instructions tend to drive faster, steer more erratically, and not see pedestrians in the roadway. Why? GPS visual displays work well, but the devices’ auditory complexity strains the human brain.
(June 7, 2012 Phys Org) Can sat navs reduce drivers' performance?
(June 7, 2012 Lancaster University News) Findings from Lancaster University and Royal Holloway, University of London
4. SHELL GAME
√ Principal GLONASS contractor JSC Russian Space Systems denied the charges on July 10, when the police raided offices of RSS CEO and GLONASS designer Yuri Urlichich as well as his first deputy and some subcontracting firms. Russian media report the Interior Ministry (MVD) is investigating a US$17 million–dollar embezzlement scheme that siphoned off GNSS R&D funds through fake orders with fly-by-night companies.
Russian Space Systems Glonass page
(NTV Russia story and video) Russian Space Systems charged with embezzling half a billion rubles
(July 10, 2012 Moscow Times) Police Raid Space Firm Suspected of $17M Fraud
5. MARKET SHARE
√ With 30 million GPS-only devices in China, more precision and lower prices will be Beidou’s ticket to market share, said Cao Chong, head of a Chinese industry group. Accuracy is expected to increase by 20 percent in the Asia Pacific region using both GNSSes. Just “tens of thousands” Beidou-only devices are installed on ships and buses now. Next step: “scale-production” Beidou chips.
(June 4, 2012 China Daily) Beidou Navigates Path to Larger Market Share
(June 12, 2012 China Economic Net) Beidou aiming 20% global navigation market share
The Lamprey Solution
Lampreys, the marvelous 450-million-year-old finned creatures who have been the inspiration for countless monster special effects, are in trouble. The population of the U.S. native Pacific Northwest variety plunged from 400 thousand to 20, 000 in 60 years. But there's no problem social media can't fix, right?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to win awareness and support for Entosphenus tridentata, the snakelike fish with two rings of teeth on a parasitic suction cup mouth, via Facebook and Twitter.
The movements of Luna The Lamprey, a virtual fish, are based on actual tracking data scientists obtain at dams. Concerned citizens and engineers, such as ourselves, can follow her spawning progress here.
We wish her well, and hope that the effort to build lamprey ladders - really, lamprey walls because they crawl up with their mouths — goes forward quickly.
(P.S. These aren't the troublesome Great Lakes lampreys or the ones in the Queen's pie. These are the good guys.)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative (Luna's page)
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