Developed initially for the military, GPS has been around for nearly three decades, finding its way into a variety of civilian activities in which real-time location information is of value. Led by transportation and construction applications, the demand for GPS has emerged as a twenty-first century “must-have,” second only to the cell phone for day-to-day wizardry, and the only wonder is why it seems to have taken many business applications longer than the general public to recognize its value. In our neck of the woods, collection and route management operators are turning to GPS to monitor and, in some cases, direct activities. Inevitably, this will become increasingly important as security concerns, traffic and facilities congestion, and destination-scheduling both for the delivery of reclaimed materials to manufacturers and of waste to intermodal sites for transshipment to remote landfills push us increasingly toward positive control of all vehicle movements.
Nor is GPS use in our industry restricted to roadway activities. Initially conceived as a means of monitoring waste compaction, GPS is becoming more and more a mainstay at landfills where airspace is just too valuable a commodity to give away because of boundary errors that grow in magnitude with each successive lift.
At present there are two separate systems available for use: Navstar GPS (US) and GLONASS (Russia). But a third, christened Galileo, initially commissioned by a private European consortium and now under the control of the EU, is slated to become operational by 2013. Not surprisingly, Galileo will be more accurate than its predecessors—one meter for public use and sub-meter for military and paying customers—and will provide better coverage at high latitudes.
Do you make use of GPS in your operations? If so, how and how extensively? Is it a subject on which you’d like us to devote more coverage?