Murphy's Law: Blue Force Tracker Blues

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January 31, 2008: During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, "Blue Force Tracker" ("BFT", GPS/satellite telephone devices) were hastily placed in thousands of combat vehicles. Anyone with a laptop, the right software and access codes could then see where everyone was (via a map showing blips for each BFT user). This hasty (all the stuff was still in development) experiment was a huge success, and the United States has proceeded to add more of this capability. There are some problems, however. There are still sometimes long (more than a few second) delays in getting updated data from the satellite. But the biggest problem is that stationary icons, placed on BFR user screens to indicate enemy troops or dangers (like minefields or roadside bombs), don't get updated accurately, or in a timely fashion. Once the troops begin to encounter a lot of roadside bombs that don't exist (although Blue Force Tracker shows them), they begin to lose faith in the system. Fixing this is not easy, although several different solutions are being tried.

 


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