Australia keeps moving and its GPS coordinates need to keep up.
Over the last 22 years, the country has moved nearly 5 feet because of tectonic activity, putting it out of sync with GPS systems. To reflect Australia's new position, its government is making the effort to update its latitude and longitude.
Australia has updated its coordinates four times in 50 years, the most current one established in 1994. With movement to the north and slightly east, the country shifts by 2.8 inches every year.
A difference in distance by nearly 5 feet doesn't sound much, and is not a big issue, actually, since GPS systems in smartphones are only accurate to about 16 to 33 feet. However, such a discrepancy will be problematic in driverless cars, which is seen to be growing in adoption.
"With the applications that are coming in intelligent transport systems ... if you're [4.9 feet] out then you're in another lane," said Geoscience Australia's Dan Jaksa.
However, Jaksa warned Australians that the shift in the country's location does not change property sizes.
When Geoscience Australia updates the country's coordinates in 2017, the latitude and longitude it will be using will be those projected to be the country's location by 2020. As such, there will be a few years until Australia really, truly syncs with GPS systems.
In June, it was announced that Sydney will be deploying street-level traffic lights in an effort to prevent smartphone users from being hurt due to not looking where they are going while on the street.
New South Wales is preparing a pilot program for street-level traffic lights, with the first phase lasting for six months and featuring five places within the Sydney business district. It is expected that the effort will cost more than $180,000.
"We need to create a road system that keeps pedestrians safe and this includes situations when they may not be paying attention," said Bernard Carlon, Center for Road Safety's executive director.
According to statistics in Australia, pedestrian casualties are rising and excessive smartphone use is one of the reasons why. In 2015, 61 people died on the streets of New South Wales, a 49-percent jump from figures in 2014.
Carlon also said that the street-level traffic signs will give pedestrians another layer of warning as they will be installed to complement lights and signals already in place in the area. The initiative is part of the Towards Zero campaign, which is geared toward raising awareness of traffic risks in pedestrians.