Evolution of Geolocation
Flashback: During the ancient days, Greeks used the stars to locate their position when they set out to sail or marched on land to conquer a kingdom.
Fast forward to the twentieth century, stars have been replaced by geolocation software & hardware, and location users have diversified from just sailors, soldiers, etc. to automotive, maritime, aerospace, defense, offices, individuals, among others. This journey from stars to geolocation devices have been a captivated one for humans. Technology has transformed on how we can triangulate our exact location with just a push of a button or click of a mouse.
Evolution of geolocation has a long, hard, and meticulous history of people creating location courses using the starts, moon, and sun, getting lost midway and then finding their way again to finally reach their destination. This evolution story is particularly interesting considering the fact that people from different parts of the world (and not a specific group of people or a country alone) contributed to the development of modern-day geolocation devices.
Early Navigational System
- The first record of large boats to carry goods for trade and marked the birth of natural navigation
- Coastal navigators used sounding reed to measure shallow water depths
- Vikings regularly sailed to Iceland and Greenland using only the sun, stars and wind as their guide.
- Floki Vilgjerdarsson, a Viking explorer carried aboard a cage of ravens. When he thought, land should be near, he would release a raven. If it circled the boat, land was not near, but if it took off in a certain direction, the boat followed
- Mariner’s compass, an early form of the magnetic compass, can be considered one of the first man-made navigation device
- Portolan Charts: First nautical charts created on sheepskin or goatskin, were rare and very expensive
- Charts of magnetic variation in different parts of the world were available, making the magnetic compass a valuable navigational tool
- Gyroscopic compass, a non-magnetic compass was introduced by Elmer Sperry
- Robert Watson-Watt invented the first Radar in 1935, used to locate objects beyond the range of vision by projecting radio waves against them
Modern Navigation Tools
- Loran (Long Range Navigation) was developed in the US during 1940s, which uses pulsed radio transmissions from master and slave stations
- 1973: Pentagon proposed Navstar Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system
- 1978: First 11 Navstar GPS satellites are launched into space
- 1983: President Reagan lets all civilian commercial aircraft to use GPS system to improve air navigation safety
- 1989: Magellan releases Magellan NAV 1000 to become the first to sell a hand-held navigation device
- 2000: President Clinton lifts selective availability on GPS usage for civilians, allowing them to use GPS with pinpoint accuracy just like military
- 2005: Google Maps debuts
- 2009: Foursquare launches, helping further popularize geolocation review and reward services.
- 2015: Facebook begins licensing location-based data from Factual, a geodata platform.
In today’s world geolocation technology is used in almost all major business operations including fleet management. Be it tracking vehicle, lowering fuel consumption, maintenance, repairs, insurance premiums, tire wear, vehicle idle time, or lowering a number of accidents, geolocation technology can save a fleet manager of a lot of problems.