Backing up to keep going

News U.S. DOT March 07, 2002
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The U.S. Department of Transportation today released an action plan to maintain the adequacy of backup systems for each area of operation in which the Global Positioning System (GPS) is being used for critical transportation applications.

The move is in response to a report released Sept. 10, 2001, by the DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. The report stated that the national transportation infrastructure that relies on the GPS is susceptible to unintentional disruption by such causes as atmospheric effects, signal blockage from buildings and interference from communications equipment, as well as to potential deliberate disruption. (See GPS signals vulnerable to deliberate disruption, R&B, October 2001, p 15.)

The DOT reviewed the report and concurred with all of the report’s recommendations. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta said that safety-critical transportation applications that use the GPS currently have adequate backups in case of GPS disruption, but he said future actions will be necessary to build redundancy into critical transportation systems under development and ensure that essential radionavigation services continue.

"The action plan we are announcing today will ensure that the vulnerabilities identified in the report do not affect the safety and security of our transportation system," said Mineta, "as we work to ensure that GPS fulfills its potential as a key element of the nation’s transportation infrastructure."

As part of the action plan, the DOT will implement several initiatives:

• Ensure that adequate backup systems are maintained;

• Maintain the partnership with the Department of Defense to continue modernizing the GPS;

• Facilitate transfer of appropriate anti-jam technology from the military for civilian use;

• Conduct industry outreach to develop receiver performance standards;

• Promote education programs with state and local DOTs about GPS vulnerabilities; and


• Complete an assessment of radionavigation capabilities across all the modes of transportation to identify the most appropriate mix of systems.

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