Depend on your GPS?

If you're like most people, the GPS function on your smartphone has become the one feature you use and value more than any other.

Few people these days can even remember what life was like before the ascendency of GPS.  Paper maps?  Written directions? Those things seem as archaic in today's world as a stone ax.

Your GPS may go blank

Unfortunately, your trusty GPS may go dark, malfunction, or experience difficulty starting on April 6th of this year (2019). The reasons are complicated, but in a nutshell, it amounts to GPS having the same kind of issue that some computers faced during the Y2K incident.  The system encodes the week number in a 10-bit field, which allows the week to be assigned a number ranging from 0 to 1023.  On week 1024, the system will revert back to week 0 and start again.

On the week of April 6th, that's exactly what's going to happen. It should be noted that most modern GPS receivers won't be impacted by this, but there is a possibility that some older technology will interpret the rollover as the date suddenly shifting back to January 6th, 1980, or to some other incorrect date.  If and where that occurs, problems will begin to manifest.

In addition to the fact that impacted GPS systems will begin to report the incorrect date, but they'll also begin to report incorrect locations.  This is because accurate timing is a critical component in determining the precise location.  If the timing is off by so much as a nanosecond, it can change your location data by about a foot. Now imagine what the timing being off by several decades would do!

Our perspective

All that to say if you rely heavily on your GPS, and you're using older technology, be prepared for potential problems beginning the week of April 6th, 2019.


The author

Thanks for reading this short post. For more tips on thriving with small business technology, check out the other blog posts at DWPia Blogs. I am also available at dwpia on LinkedIn, at dwpia on Facebook, and @dwpia on Twitter.

Cybersecurity Expert, Small Business Technology Consultant, Managed Services Provider, Managed IT Support

Denis S Wilson

I am President and Principal Consultant for DWP Information Architects: specializing in managed IT support for smaller healthcare practices, clinics, insurance companies, and nonprofit companies in Ventura County and San Fernando Valley. And have created cost-effective IT solutions, for over 20 years, specializing in cybersecurity and regulatory compliance.

I am also a published author and speaker, working extensively with organizations that include: the State of California, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE, Women's Business Centers, and Small Business Development Centers. As well as providing small business technology education programs through business and professional associations.

Contact me if you would like me to speak at your meeting.

Meanwhile, check out this report

Executive Report: 10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business