GPS Navigation in Jamaica

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Finally we have GPS navigation available in Jamaica! GPS has been around for a while, but, for the most part, it’s been utilized heavily in niche sectors – in surveying, specialized areas utilizing vehicle tracking services, and academic research. But now we have a true consumer product available locally which delivers an interactive road map and street navigator into the car with you anywhere you want to go locally.

There are some issues that require clarification regarding this product. Firstly, it’s not a tracking system, so no one can know where you are in real-time. Secondly, while it cannot find a specific address (Jamaica has at least 3 different addressing systems, so it’s difficult to standardize across a single platform), you can certainly find the nearest church, gas station, pharmacy, police station, restaurant, or landmark and take it from there. If this is unacceptable, consider the alternative – using the paper road map, or asking for directions in a dangerous part of town… And thirdly, right now it can only work on the Garmin platform. Cars that come with a GPS system already each have different systems which are, for now, ¬†incompatible with the local base data. Honda has a different navigation system than Mercedes Benz, and while base data are base data, once the platforms are different, it won’t work.

For now…

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Typically, I use the device in digital map mode; for normal run-arounds, I don’t need to navigate anywhere. I can find out the name of a road I pass by every day which doesn’t have a sign on it. I can find out, at a glance, if that road leads anywhere, or if it’s a dead-end. Or if I’m low on gas (like today), I can find the nearest gas station (I really shouldn’t drive so low on fuel). Or if I’m jammed up in traffic, I can re-route out of there. When people mention places, I can locate it easily. I can tell whether that corner up ahead is a sharp turn or gentle bend, and adjust my driving accordingly. At Dover last week, I could tell the turns coming up on the track well in advance, something that was very helpful to a track rookie.

We’re pretty gadget-savvy here in Jamaica, and we like the cool tech toys. But this thing has practical values. Consider the recent unfortunate case where Canadian tourists got shot at along Spanish Town Road. And the volatility that pervades other parts of Jamaica, which invariably leads to road-blocks etc.

TIME had an interesting short article on GPS, and you can see more about the Jamaican GPS product here.

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admin Posted by: admin June 15, 2009 at 10:34 pm