As the use of GPS grows there exist concerns about the appropriate, acceptable, safe, and legal use of the technology. One of these areas of concern can be placed under the heading of "professional authority". In 2001, Sara Frankenfeld, then an employee of Warren County (New York), used a GPS receiver to locate fire hydrants in the county. As a statement attributed to her says, she was doing this because "the town employee who maintains the water system is getting ready to retire and the only map of the existing system was in his head. We were simply creating an inventory map for use by his successor and other town employees" (Fairhurst FW. gis vs. survey 3/8/02).
However, because surveying is overseen by New York State’s Board of Licensing, she was accused of surveying without a license. Similar situations have come up elsewhere, such as in Montana where a city contracted for "GPS mapping of manholes for the City’s GIS" (Zimmer 2003). In a couple of these cases, courts have ruled that identifying locations with a GPS unit is not the same as surveying, which establishes the authoritative location. However, these situations have triggered significant concern within the surveying community, and professional organizations representing surveyors have raised the question of how data used for official purposes can be gathered, and by whom.
In the Frankenfeld case, the New York State Board that oversees surveying ruled that locating objects for use in GIS does not constitute surveying, so the issue was dropped.
Let’s discuss the Sara Frankenfeld case and others. Should there be limits on the use of GPS by non-professionals? How are the questions of authority and accuracy related? What about responsibility? What significance do the accepted levels of error in GPS, vs. surveying, play in this issue? Identify the underlying issues and consider the implications of different answers.
Furthermore, in the last couple of years, a boom in the access to GPS technology has allow more and more people to use GPS tracking for personal matters. For instance, parents are able to monitor their kids movements, spouses are tracking their partners in order to find about infidelities, government officials are tracking the use official of vehicles by employees, and law enforcement is taking advantage of this technology to keep an eye on criminal suspects. At what point should GPS tracking be considered illegal? Should you track people without their knowledge? Please reflect about this and similar situations in include your thoughts in the post.
Post an initial response that answers these questions in an academically substantive way. If you use outside sources to support your answer, be sure that you identify those sources. After posting your discussion of this topic, post at least two responses to posts made by your fellow students.
Here are a couple of articles that may help you:
•Is GPS Tracking Ethical? – This article has a link to a YouTube clip of a news report about how GPS tracking aids a murder investigation (http://youtu.be/RpM1wJ-AXZs)
•The Ethics of GPS
•Ethics Violations and GPS Cell Phones
•High-Tech GPS in Autos Raising Questions About Extent of Surveillance
•Suprime Court Seems Troubled by Police GPS Tracking
•Should You Track Your Kids
•Official transcripts from the "US vs Jones" case (Nov. 8, 2011) – this is a 75-page document but it is very interesting to read if you have the time.
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