Sunday, May 30, 2010

Traffic and the GPS

In Oct 2008 I came across a news report that a Polish driver who was too sure of his GPS road navigation device ended up neck-deep in a lake after ignoring road signs warning of a dead-end ahead.  Within a few days after this incident, I was deeply worried when the Business Line reported that HCL Infosystems has bagged an order from Delhi Police to enable the police force to access automated information. The company said it has modernised the police control room which consists of multimedia contact centre, and has the ability to track all PCR vans fitted with GPS devices and to coordinate their movements. Fortunately, there is no adverse news on the GPS matter.  

I was reminded of the Oct 2008 news item, when I recently came across an interesting article in Economist.  Some excerpts from the article:
"Mummy, what are you shouting at?" my three-year-old asks from the back seat of the car. "I'm shouting at the computer—it's taking us the wrong way again", I reply. My son and I are escaping to the Peak district for the weekend with only a TomTom GPS to help us find our way. We should be heading north, but for some reason the GPS doesn't want to go that way. I watch in goggle-eyed disbelief as we sail past the exit to the M1, the main trunk road north of London and head straight into the busy orbital route around town. "This is the rush hour", I shout, "are you crazy?" Moments later we squeal to a halt. My confidence in the shiny new GPS is starting to ebb away..
.. As I drum my fingers on the driving wheel and stare at the rear end of a car, the GPS machine announces it has found faster route (no kidding!) and we turn off and head back to the M1. "Ha! I told you so" I tell the machine. But my triumph is short-lived. A short distance up the M1 and the GPS announces we are turning off and heading to St Albans, which is entirely the wrong direction...

In a lighter vein, it appears that there is not much of an improvement in the GPS world between 2008 and 2010.