Imagine being able to navigate through fields in a remote district with the help of navigation system. The advent of GPS-enabled mobile phones has allowed people to steer through cities without asking for directions. But India’s foray into creating its own navigation system—the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)—would now allow people in even the remotest corners of the country to enjoy high-accuracy navigation. With the successful launch of the seventh and the last satellite in the series by the Indian Space Research Organization, India joins a select club of countries/blocs, including the US (GPS), the European Union (Galileo), Russia(GLONASS) and China (BeiDou), that have their own navigation system. The satellites will have both civilian and military application. While other countries have a vast network orbiting the earth, the IRNSS with just seven satellites, will have an accuracy of ‘better than 20 metres above earth’.
Though navigation will remain the chief use of the technology, the satellites can also be used to deliver better governance—vehicle-tracking, mapping of data for law enforcement agencies, etc, will get easier. The satellite will also be used for marine and aerial navigation, surveying and construction mapping besides being used for relief work by disaster management agencies. India may also leverage the technology for commercial ends, allowing other countries in the region to hire its services. The development could also build an ecosystem for Indian IT companies to come up with products and services that incorporate the technology.