Most of us now consider GPS positioning an ordinary part of our home and work life.
But, is our reliance of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) putting us –and our work –at risk?
The UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering thinks so. In a new report, the Academy says that now that the range of satellite navigation systems is so broad, signal failure or interference could potentially affect safety systems and other critical parts of the economy.
“GPS and other GNSS are so useful and so cheap to build into equipment that we have become almost blindly reliant on the data they give us,” explained Dr. Martyn Thomas CBE FREng, Chairman of the Academy’s GNSS working group. “A significant failure of GPS could cause lots of services to fail at the same time, including many that are thought to be completely independent of each other. The use of non-GNSS back ups is important across all critical uses of GNSS.”
The report, Global Navigation Space Systems: reliance and vulnerabilities, points out that satellite navigation signals are now in widespread use –by data networks, financial systems, shipping and air transport, agriculture, railways and emergency services. In fact, the European Commission, in its mid-term review of the European satellite radio navigation programs this January estimated that an €800 billion chunk of the European economy is already dependent on GNSS.
Unfortunately, though, all GNSS applications are vulnerable to failure, disruption and interference, from both natural and malicious causes. (more…)