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3/13/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

USDOT to create action plan protecting GPS-reliant transportation applications


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U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta March 7 announced that the department would implement an action plan to maintain the adequacy of back-up systems for each area of operation employing Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for critical transportation applications.
USDOT previously reviewed a September study, prepared by the department's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, which noted that GPS is susceptible to unintentional disruption from atmospheric effects, signal blockage from buildings, and interference from communications equipment, as well as potential deliberate acts.
The study contains a number of recommendations to address disruption possibilities and ensure national transportation-infrastructure safety.
Mineta believes safety-critical transportation applications that use GPS currently have adequate backups in case of disruptions, but future actions will be necessary to build redundancy into developing critical transportation systems and ensure that essential radio-navigation services continue.
USDOT's plan includes the following initiatives:

• ensure that adequate back-up systems are maintained;
• maintain a partnership with the Department of Defense to continue modernizing GPS when implementing new civil signals;
• facilitate the transfer of appropriate anti-jam technology from the military to civil use;
• conduct industry outreach to develop receiver performance standards;
• emphasize and promote education programs with state and local transportation departments that advise users about GPS vulnerabilities; and
• complete an assessment of radio-navigation capabilities across all transportation modes over the next 10 years and beyond to identify the most appropriate mix of systems, from both capabilities and cost perspectives.

USDOT's Positioning/Navigation Executive Committee during the next year would oversee the implementation of report recommendations — which would be integrated into future editions of the Federal Radio-Navigation Plan — and the associated work plan.


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