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GPS might be vulnerable to disruptions, USDOT says


Tracking and monitoring systems that rely on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) might not be performing to the best safety interests of the U.S. transportation industry, according to study results released Sept. 10 by U.S. Department of Transportation.

DOT's "Vulnerability Assessment of the Transportation Infrastructure Relying on the GPS" study determined that GPS is susceptible to unintentional disruptions from atmospheric effects, buildings that block signals and communications equipment interference, as well as some deliberate disruptions.

With all transportation modes increasingly relying on GPS, the study recommends carriers: create more awareness — especially among aviation, maritime and surface modes — of the vulnerability of GPS and the need to reduce a GPS signal's degradation or loss; implement systems designed to monitor, report and locate unintentional GPS interference; determine if military GPS anti-jamming technology is applicable, and work with U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop appropriate technologies for civilian uses; identify appropriate back-up systems, integrity warning or operational procedures for each safety-critical application; help develop low-cost systems as GPS back-ups; and continue the industry's ongoing GPS modernization program designed to develop higher GPS broadcast power and make available three civil frequencies.

DOT and DOD sponsored the study, designed to help ensure the safe operation of America's transportation system. DOT requires heads of each operating administration to thoroughly review the completed study, consider the adequacy of back-up GPS systems and report their findings to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta within 60 days.

DOT soon will schedule an early October public meeting to solicit comments on the study; an additional mid-December public meeting would be scheduled to enable DOT to present its response to the study's recommendations.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/10/2001