Out in Front: 25 Years Young

September 1, 2014  - By
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Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron

When I was a young man, the moment seemed like all there was, all there needed to be. Why plan? Why reflect? The days were just packed.

Once I turned 25 — or somewhere around there — intimations dawning of my own mortality, I began to look both forward and back. It seemed like a good idea, perhaps even an important one, to draw from my own history, good and bad, and use that perspective to start building a more informed, more mapped-out future.

That’s what the Special Section accompanying this issue is all about. So much goes on at all times — the days are just packed — and we are so busy formulating solutions to the challenge of the moment, whether that be spoofing or indoor positioning or adjacent-band use, that we have little opportunity to reflect on how far we have come. To take the long view on just where we want to go in the next 25 years.

In that vein, we are proud to present Brad Parkinson’s vision of the future. He brought you GPS in the past. He has his sights firmly fixed on “PTA” for the future: Protect, Toughen, and Augment GNSS to assure continuous delivery of solutions. 

Brad is uniquely qualified to lay out these prescriptions for our collective future. Having been deep in the political and technical trenches, fighting to build a revolutionary new system decades ago, and in continuous engagement ever since, he knows both the vulnerabilities and the possibilities.

No mention of the 25-year history of this magazine would be complete, or even remotely accurate, without giving prominence to two individuals who shaped it from the beginning.  Glen Gibbons was the founding editor and held down this chair for 16 years. He literally invented GNSS journalism. His confrère from those early days is still with us: Richard Langley logged his 200th Innovation column a couple of years ago, and it remains a cornerstone of every issue. Except August and December, when he helps us compile the GNSS Constellation Almanac.

So, back to the young man, 25 years of age, who had a head full of impressions but not much, perhaps, in the way of concrete ideas. He has turned twice that number since then, and I hesitate to state how many more. The impressions, of course, have only continued to accumulate. The ideas have started to come. Plans have formed, been left by the wayside, new plans derived, and some of them even followed. Life, it has been said, is what happens while you are busy making plans.

Take some time to wander through the back pages of GNSS industry history in the Special Section volume that accompanies this one. Read what the GPS Directorate is doing now to make things even better. Absorb the necessary strength and vision — Dr. Parkinson’s PTA prescription — we’ll need for the future.

And then go out and do 25 more.

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Alan Cameron is the former editor-at-large of GPS World magazine.

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