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What’s New: An interesting observation from David Mitlyng at Xairos. We agree and have said that “Of positioning, navigation, and timing, timing is the one ring that rules them all.”  🙂

Why It’s Important: Outside the community, few understand the importance of this fundamental tech utility.

What Else to Know:


The Hierarchy of Needs for the Digital World

How good is good enough?

When it comes to GPS, it depends on who is using it – and how it is being used. For the most people who use it only to get around, it works fine. This feeds the perception it is good enough.

But for the military and civil aviation, it most definitely is not good enough; check out the news section below.

These groups are working hard to develop a “GPS independent” positioning system using sensitive sensors, AI-enabled cameras, and even muons.

But that is not where the real value in GPS lies. Humans care about location – our electronics do not. They care about time.

If there’s a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for the digital world, timing would be at the base layer, like oxygen is for humans. An accurate and reliable timing reference provides the alignment for coordinated signal processing, buffer read/write, and time-stamping of digital events. Think of it like synchronized lights on a busy road – without it digital traffic grinds to a halt.

To keep our electronics humming smoothly lies a complex timing infrastructure consisting of stable clocks that are synchronized (see below).

But at the headwaters of this timing network is GPS, one reference clock to rule them all.

Without GPS, our networks would grind to a halt: credit cards and ATMS would stop working, communications would degrade and fail, and ultimately power grids would cease to function. We would be sitting in the dark waiting for Mad Max to take over.

Fortunately, there are alternatives in development to take the bullseye off GPS.


Blog Editor’s Note: We agree with the last line of another Xairos posting from a couple years ago about the privatization of time: The time is right for a new global timing solution.”