University of Rhode Island professor Peter Swaszek has modified a global positioning system (GPS) so that it can be used to concurrently transmit emergency messages and other relevant data for government agencies. The Differential GPS (DGPS) system can go well beyond the current capability of standard GPS, Swaszek says. "We believe that simultaneous transmission of the current navigation correction information and additional messaging could be accomplished at very minimal cost and with minimal impact on current users," he says.
There currently are 88 DGPS towers scattered across the United States that improve the accuracy of the satellite-based GPS system. The U.S. Coast Guard has been testing the DGPS system since the 1980s because it is more effective in helping aircraft land, docking large ships, and other navigational needs. The DGPS towers remain strong in extreme weather conditions and could be used to send emergency messages, Swaszek says. "This could be a great tool for the Department of Homeland Security because it uses existing infrastructure and fills a need within the emergency communication system," he says.
Although the DGPS system does not work as a two-way communication channel, it could be used to broadcast information to users.
From University of Rhode Island
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