Mineta unveils DOT’s plan to defend against GPS jamming

 - May 15, 2008, 9:23 AM

DOT Secretary Norman Mineta announced last month an action plan aimed at mitigating the vulnerability of GPS to inadvertent interference and deliberate jamming, both of which were disclosed in a September 10 report by the DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Mineta noted that all four of the DOT’s operating administrations–the FAA, Coast Guard, Highways and Railroads–had reviewed and concurred with the report’s findings, and the action plan initiatives reflect their combined responses to the potential threats to GPS. “We all need to focus on these measures to protect our critical transportation infrastructure,” he said.

The plan covers four areas:

•    Vulnerability mitigation (ensure adequate backup systems; continue GPS modernization; continue spectrum protection; and enhance interference location capabilities).

•    Receiver enhancement (facilitate transfer of DOD anti-jam technology; certify safety-critical GPS receivers; and develop GPS receiver standards).

•    Risk awareness (emphasize education programs; conduct periodic public outreach sessions; send letters to industry, state/local DOTs; and work with GPS industry council).

•    Future direction (develop 2003 federal radionavigation plan road map to identify definitive mix of future radionavigation systems; complete intermodal capabilities assessment of radionavigation systems; and make decision on the future of loran-C by the end of this year).

Mineta said the DOT’s Positioning and Navigation Executive Committee will oversee the execution of the plan and charter a task force to conduct the multimodal capability assessments and identify candidates for the future radionavigation systems mix.

Separately, the Department of  Defense and all other civil federal government departments have been reviewing the effect of GPS interference on their individual operations. AIN has learned that the Commerce Department’s Institute of Standards and Technology is particularly concerned about the effect of extended GPS loss on terrestrial applications, which depend on ultra-precise “Spectrum 1” timing standards, such as telephones, cellphones, radio and TV, in addition to the money markets, power grids and the like. Only three techniques–GPS, loran-C and cesium atomic clocks–meet Spectrum 1 criteria, with atomic clocks generally regarded as impractical for widespread use.