Friday, September 9, 2011

What About the Jobs that Geospatial Tech Is Creating?

Yesterday I watched the House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on the Lightsquared/GPS issue. What I found most interesting was that many of the Representatives on the Committee framed the issue in terms of having to choose between balancing the jobs that the Lightsquared proposal might create with the public safety and scientific benefits associated with GPS.  I did not hear any of them discuss the many jobs and economic benefits that GPS and associated applications have already created and are continuing to create in the U.S.

I believe that one of reasons that the economic benefits associated with GPS was not discussed was that many of the Representatives (and their staffers) see GPS as a stand-alone satellite-based system rather than as being integrated into the larger geospatial technology industry that was recently recognized by the Department of Labor as a high growth industry.   A similar type of situation is developing with respect to proposed privacy legislation; many on Capitol Hill do not appreciate the unintended consequences that may arise within the geospatial community due to efforts to protect geolocation privacy.

As a result, it is becoming increasinlgy important for the geospatial technology community to think and act more broadly when dealing with these increasingly important policy issues.  Otherwise, laws and policies may develop around a particular technology that has a negative impact on the entire geospatial ecosystem.

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