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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the Global Positioning System?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a U.S. government system operated by the Department of Defense (DoD) consisting of satellites, ground stations, and user equipment and receivers. The DoD is also responsible for launching this constellation of satellites that orbit and continuously transmit signals in one direction, back to the Earth. Nearly every federal department and agency has a role in sustaining GPS, and each uses GPS signals to accomplish their missions on behalf of the public.


Government and commercial users in the air, on land, at sea, and operators monitoring satellites in space can use these signals to determine their precise location and/or navigate to their intended destination. Onboard atomic clocks also allow the worldwide banking system, the Internet, and critical infrastructure such as the electric grid to seamlessly synchronize transactions and operations.  

Watch this video to learn more about the GPS satellites, which are built by GPSIA Member company Lockheed Martin:







Q. What are some of the uses of GPS?

“It’s here, it’s there, it’s everywhere….” 


See our GPS in Action page and for some great examples of just a few of the hundreds of applications of GPS technology serving users and customers worldwide.

Q. Why did the navigation system tell me to turn in the wrong direction? And why is my address incorrect in the map?

Please see to get answers to these and related questions. Hint: It's not a GPS problem! This page will tell you how to report these errors to people who can correct them.

Q. What is the GPS Innovation Alliance?

The GPS Innovation Alliance is a trade association that promotes innovation in public safety, critical infrastructure, and the global economy through the application of GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technologies. 


A primary role of the GPS Innovation Alliance is to inform policymakers and consumers about the centrality of GPS in our nation's economy and the global economy.


Q. Who are the Members and Affiliates of the GPS Innovation Alliance?

GPSIA Member companies represent true entrepreneurial success stories. They began as startups and have grown into multi-billion dollar companies employing millions of people across the globe.


Members and Affiliates represent a wide variety of fields and businesses reliant on GPS: Manufacturing, aviation, agriculture, construction, forestry, transportation, surveying, and mapping. Other organizations represent consumers who depend on GPS for boating and other outdoor activities, and in their automobiles, unmanned vehicles, smart phones, tablets, and wearable devices. GPSIA is also proud to say our Affiliates include organizations representing first responders and other emergency personnel. Our Members also manufacture GPS receivers for military organizations.


Q. What is the economic impact of GPS technology on the U.S. economy?
A 2019
report commissioned by the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology found that GPS has contributed $1.4 trillion ($1.7 trillion in 2023 dollars) and counting to the U.S. economy. A prolonged GPS outage would cost the economy approximately $1 billion dollars a day, according to the report. 


Q. What other reports describe the economic impacts of GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems?

A 2017 report commissioned by Innovate UK, the UK Space Agency, and the Royal Institute of Navigation found that the per year benefits to the United Kingdom totaled £6.7 billion. Road and emergency services applications accounted for nearly 80 percent of the benefits, due to improvements in turn-by-turn directions resulting in “…time savings, fuel savings, reductions in emissions, and reduced accident risk.” 

The report further notes, “…sectors generating a total of £206bn in Gross Value Added (11.3% of UK GDP) are supported directly by GNSS, but the primacy of GNSS in critical national infrastructures means that an even wider range of economic activity is underpinned by GNSS indirectly

The European Union Agency for the Space Programme publishes a biannual report documenting the global Earth Observation (EO) and GNSS markets. The 2022 report notes that 6.5 billion GNSS devices are in operation today, and predicts that number will grow to more than 10 billion devices by 2031. It highlights 17 market segments that use EO and/or GNSS, noting, “The global GNSS downstream market revenues, covering both device sales and service-related revenues, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.2% over the next decade, reaching a total of €492 billion by 2031. Over 82% of these revenues will be generated by value-added services (i.e. €405 billion in 2031). Besides the dominance of the aforementioned mass market segments, the professional markets of (i) Agriculture, (ii) Urban Development and Cultural Heritage, and (iii) Infrastructure will be the main contributors to the global GNSS revenue stream.


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