Cao Chong: More People Should Know BeiDou System Better

A few days ago, the news that a “BeiDou Map application” will be launched on May 1 attracted wide attention. In fact, however, this formulation of “BeiDou Map” itself is debatable. An electronic map won’t be different with different systems, whether it is BeiDou system, US’s Global Positioning System (GPS) or other global satellite navigation systems. There is no such thing as “BeiDou Map”. This wrong formulation may be caused by confusion of electronic maps and BeiDou navigation systems due to a lack of professional knowledge, or by mere business hype. But this has exposed a problem that more people should know China’s BeiDou system better.

Now the scientific community has reached a consensus that scientific and technological innovation and popularization are the two wings to realize innovation and development, and scientific popularization should be placed in a similarly important position as scientific and technological innovation. Without the general improvement of the scientific literacy of people, it is difficult to build a grand talent pool with innovative spirit and to realize the rapid transformation of scientific and technological achievements. This is also true for the BeiDou system.

The scientific popularization on the BeiDou system has its characteristics: first, wide spread and deep penetration. Because satellite navigation involves various fields and aspects of national economy and people’s livelihood and have the ability to change people’s ways of production, life and their surroundings; Second, wide involvement of disciplines. Satellite navigation involves a wide variety of disciplines, technologies, industrial fields, market segments, and application services. It needs disciplinary knowledge in mathematics, computer science, electronic engineering, geodesy, geographic information system, and transportation, etc. In recent years, the satellite navigation system technology and its application and service industry have developed rapidly in terms of coverage, innovation and integration with other fields. it has expanded from the field of navigation positioning and timing to non-navigation categories, from basic fields such as the internet of things, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, to unmanned vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicle systems, intelligent robots ... All of these bring difficulties and challenges as well as opportunities to the scientific popularization on the BeiDou system.

At present, the trend of “mass entrepreneurship and innovation” continues. There are still lots of basic scientific popularization work left to fully apply the BeiDou system. We should work hard to let more people know the system better and we need supports from the whole society on this.

In the global satellite navigation industry, BeiDou system is a “latecomer”. The US’s GPS and Russia’s GLONASS have been providing service to users from early on. Europe’s Galileo system is launched more or less the same time with BeiDou and is expected to provide service to the world in 2020. To us, BeiDou system is a new thing. It is young compared with the US’s GPS. So only with long-term strategic planning, continuous updated management system, open and transparent policies, and continuously promoted scientific and technological innovation will the BeiDou system show its latecomer advantages and will the satellite industry be given a full play.

At present, we should make use of all positive forces and factors as well as all available resources to find people responsible for the work, to secure necessary funds, and to carry out the structural reform necessary for the science popularization. At the same time, various forms such as lecture divisions, science popularization parks, experience areas, laboratories, exhibitions, museums, library rooms, and various media such as text and pictures, books and literature, physical objects and visual products, and acoustic and photoelectric works should all be used to let more people care about BeiDou more, understand it better, and use it more. This way, we can guarantee the long-term development of our BeiDou satellite navigation system and make it possible for science and technology to be great Chinese development impetus.