Although the GPS (“Global Positioning System”) system was primarily designed to determine the position of a carrier, the characteristics of the system and the quality of the measurements mean that many applications today exceed the strict domain of localization. : transport, trade, health, leisure, etc. These advances in terms of well-being, comfort, safety, environment or productivity make dreaming on the condition that the freedoms and privacy of individuals are respected and preserved.
Geolocation in the heart of modern history:
From the ancient astrolabe to the GPS of today, through the compass, the sextant, the gyroscope and the satellite, positioning technologies have accompanied and even often initiated economic, scientific and social development throughout of our era. But we must wait until quantum physics reveals the secrets of the atomic clock for the GPS to initiate the democratization movement that we know today, and to make geolocation available to the greatest number. The needs expressed by users have whetted the imagination of hardware builders or system designers, subset assemblers and specific software developers.
In the last 20 years, positioning technologies have been modernized: some, already old, like the gyrometer, the accelerometer or the magnetic compass find, thanks to the miniaturization of the components and the reduction of their costs, new possibilities of integration, especially in smartphones. Others such as GNSS, positioning via WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile network, QR code, RFID or NFC are real technological breakthroughs. New avenues are also opening up in the field of artificial intelligence, such as image recognition positioning .
But these technologies alone are insufficient. High-performance platforms are needed to implement and exploit them, including multi-tasking and mobile operating systems, the explosion of available computing power, the deployment of high-speed mobile networks, or the creation and deployment of accurate and comprehensive digital mapping …
Impact on Society:
Improving the performance of geolocation techniques has been one of the factors triggering globalization and the emergence of modern entrepreneurial capitalism. Recent developments in digital technologies are creating a new context in which geolocation, historically confined to travel and transportation, is at the heart of an explosion of new applications and services.
This revolution is comparable to that which followed the democratization of the measurement of time. The introduction of the wearable watch, which gives everyone access on time to the minute, has profoundly changed society and the economy in the 19th century. Similarly, the smartphone, essential support for the diffusion of digital technologies, is only a few years old.
But we already perceive that geolocation insinuates itself into all the processes of the social, economic and even private life of individuals. Available at low cost, anytime and anywhere, it helps improve comfort, safety, efficiency, productivity and new services. On the other hand, the user does not have, or little consciousness, information that circulates and especially has no control.
Intimacy and freedom of action:
Are we still masters of our intimacy and freedom of action? The debate already well underway about search engines and social networks is now spreading to geolocation. The current questioning on the independence and the neutrality of the internet shows the need to anticipate on these subjects. Legislation alone can not provide the solution. Industrial and international cooperation certainly has a role to play in creating a standardized interface that could take the form of a “GeoCloud”. This would ensure both the necessary interoperability, transparency and control of geolocation data in the absolute respect of the freedom and privacy of their owners and users.