Modern (1940’s-present)


Gregory Barnes


Imagine if GPS had never been created or was only used for military use as originally intended. Life without GPS would change the structure of our lives, hurt businesses, and at this point, most likely destroy the global economy. The creation of the global positioning system (GPS) has revolutionized economies worldwide, changed the way we complete daily tasks and altered the way we conduct business, which ultimately has increased the value of the economy.

History of the GPS                  

During the Cold War, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. Sputnik was the first satellite sent into space successfully and is well known for the fear it brought to Americans. Once Sputnik was launched the U.S. government realized just how far behind they were in technological advances. This initiated a sense of urgency within the U.S., which resulted in funding experimentation on new technology and on technological advances. Sputnik is where the origins of the GPS started. Not only did Sputnik give the U.S. the motivation it needed, but Sputnik also gave U.S. scientists something to build off of. After studying and researching Sputnik U.S. scientists noticed the doppler effect that came from the satellite. The doppler effect went on to help develop the GPS. At first Sputnik was thought of to be a huge defeat for the U.S., but it turned out to be the push in the back the U.S. needed.

” The arming key from Sputnik satellite #1. The only remaining piece of this satellite. Currently on display at the United States National Air and Space Museum.” by Alkivar is in the Public Domain

How GPS works?

GPS is a radio navigation system which allows all travelers by land, sea and air to pinpoint their location and velocity twenty-four hours a day. This stands true and applies for all weather conditions. Via the doppler effect, the key principle in the Global Positioning System, we are able to track locations. Changes in frequency signals from the GPS help to pinpoint locations. Satellites can be tracked from the ground by measuring the frequency of the radio signals they emitted, and conversely, the locations of receivers on the ground can be tracked by their distance from satellites (Sullivan, 2012). 

How does GPS relate to Science and Technology?

“Geotagging on the iPhone” by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

GPS is in almost every type of technology we use today because of the ability it has make our lives easier. Whether we are in need of directions, tracking employees or shipping items to customers we have GPS in the palm of our hands, thanks to technology. GPS benefits our society and because of the opportunity it creates for businesses. Technology has modernized the global economy and given it a brighter future.  Society has reacted to the modernization of the economy and in response businesses are more profitable. We as a society are reliant upon technology and the things it does for us to make our lives easier. For example, cell phones are a device used every day that has GPS built into it, which allows google maps or services to be used to navigate. Many of the apps on cell phones have GPS built into them and some you can only gain access to by allowing your location to be accessed. Without GPS, the things these apps do for us to make life convenient, would no longer be reasonable. Since GPS is easy to access, society has become reliant upon it. Experts claim, “Over-reliance on smart devices and the Internet is affecting our memory and perception” (Dockdrill, 2016). As GPS is becoming more modern, society is being affected by it and is changing. The way we live has changed because of technology and we take a lot of the things we have from technology for granted. Centuries ago our ancestors survived without technology, but now if our generation was left with no technology here on Earth would we be able to survive? The most likely answer is no. The GPS is one of the most influential pieces of technology ever and it has changed society forever.

GPS Initiated Change

            The creation of GPS changed the way people communicate, complete basic tasks and conduct business on a daily basis. When the GPS was introduced to the world, things quickly changed. No one was aware that a piece of technology would change the structure of our society as much as the GPS did, which includes the way we do specific tasks, communicate with one another, transport products and conduct business. Things have been made easier, more efficient and more directed toward business. With GPS, businesses can have control over their business and their employees. GPS allows business owners to track employees while they are using a company car to ensure efficient use of company vehicles. These features reduce the risk of a business owners, give them the best opportunity to be profitable, and improve company efficiency, which is important in business. You can’t be late or miss meetings with those who are ultimately are the ones keeping your business up and running. Being on time is important, and GPS makes finding directions easy. Thanks to GPS, unfamiliar roads are now nothing to worry about. GPS allows you to plan ahead by providing an estimated time of arrival. GPS also tells you how long it will take to receive a product or how long it will be to ship a product to a specific location. For example, this feature of GPS helps business owners know when inventory needs to be sent out so that it will arrive on time. Another feature of GPS is when customers use online shopping, they can receive deals based off of their location. This increases the chances of people spending money with businesses they otherwise would not have.

Based upon research conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology “A Study finds that a GPS outage would cost $1 billion per day” (Berger, 2019).

Companies use many of these techniques only because they have access to GPS. Without GPS these businesses would not be able to run the way they do. Their techniques and approach would have to be completely different and would be way less effective. GPS allows businesses to advertise and be complimentary to their customers easily. Since the creation of GPS, the state of the economy has improved and businesses worldwide are more profitable.

Impact on Economies Worldwide?

GPS has allowed  businesses and the global economy to expand. With the creation of GPS, the global economy has taken off. GPS is one of the main reasons the economy was able to bounce back after the stock crash in 1929. With GPS allowing businesses to operate at a much higher efficiency and tend to customers needs more consistently, the global economy responded well. As business boomed, so did the economy. The creation of the GPS gave every operating business the opportunity to expand. As businesses started to expand, they were able to get product out at a more efficient rate. Businesses now knew how long a product would take to get from one destination to another, plus they could track their products. With more predictable product tracking, businesses planning improved, which lead to more sales and profits. This accountability improves the efficiency of a business, creates less room for error, and maximizes profits while also keeping customers happy with on time delivery. Customer Satisfaction is all about making each and every customer have the best experience possible. GPS plays a big role in customer satisfaction by allowing businesses to notify their customers with delivery updates and on time arrival. Customers want to know when their order has been processed, when the product has been shipped and when it will arrive. GPS allows all of these things to be possible and gives each and every customer a better overall experience. GPS and customer satisfaction run hand-in-hand. Without GPS, businesses that ship products would not be able to satisfy their customers. Customer satisfaction matters because the happier the customer is the more likely they are going to purchase something again, which boosts the economy.

According to the U.S. Private Sector study “For the United States alone, RTI estimates that GPS has generated roughly $1.4 trillion in economic benefits since it was made available for civilian and commercial use in the 1980s.

Lasting Impact

On October 4, 1957 the course of history was changed forever. Those who knew about the GPS were aware of the great things it could bring, but no one knew its true capabilities. The creation of the Global Positioning System far exceeded the expectations we had for it and changed the way the world works. GPS is a staple in the world’s economy and without it any given economy would quickly fall apart. Although, it is important to remember the GPS goes further than only benefitting the economy. It also has changed the way we as human beings live our daily lives. GPS has given us the ability transport efficiently, made our lives more convenient and introduced us to the world of technology and how it affect society.

Chapter Questions

  1. Free Response: List at least three ways that GPS has used technology to advance society?
  2. Multiple Choice: Which event sparked the U.S. to start funding and taking technological advances seriously?A) The U.S. military was attacked by the EgyptiansB) SputnikC) The U.S. government became too powerfulD) The bombing of Hiroshima
  3. True or False: GPS can retrieve any given location 24 hours a day.



Berger, E. (2019, June 14). Study finds that a GPS outage would cost $1 billion per day. Retrieved from

Böckmann, Marco. (2013) The Shared Economy: It Is Time to Start Caring about Sharing; Value Creating Factors in the Shared Economy.

Dockrill, P. (2016, March 31). Over-Reliance on GPS Could See Us Lose Our Sense of Navigation, Expert Warns. Science Alert. Retrieved from

McTigue, K. (2019, October 2). Economic Benefits of the Global Positioning System to the U.S. Private Sector Study. Retrieved from

Murray, A. (2019, January 11). How GPS Changed the World (and Business) Forever. Retrieved from

Sullivan, M. (2012, August 9). A brief history of GPS. PC World. Retrieved from

Images & Media

” The arming key from Sputnik satellite #1. The only remaining piece of this satellite. Currently on display at the United States National Air and Space Museum.” by Alkivar is in the Public Domain

“Geotagging on the iPhone” by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Seeker. (2013, October 21). How GPS Works. Retrieved from



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To the extent possible under law, Gregory Barnes has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Science, Technology, & Society: A Student-Led Exploration, except where otherwise noted.

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