Wednesday, 15 August 2012
In geeks we trust?
The group of 14 walkers who got lost in the Cairngorms while relying on smart phone apps to navigate probably don't realise how lucky they were to come of the hill alive. SatNav is a fantastic aid to navigation but, unless you're thinking of mounting an expedition to Mars, it is just that, an aid. The trouble is that satellite navigation takes all the brain work out of navigation and can leave people deskilled and unable to cope if the system goes down. Navigation is basically answering two question, "where am I?" and "in what direction do I go from here?" SatNav is fantastic at answering the first question but to use it to answer the second without any form of more traditional back up is to put all your trust in one vulnerable little box of tricks. As a position fixing system SatNav takes some beating but knowing which direction to head off in should be your decision based on skill and experience. It always amazes me how many people are quite incapable of the simplest map reading task and are happy to place their safety in the hands of of a piece of electronic gadgetry and hope for the best.