Vulnerability of Transportation Infrastructure That Relies on GPS Is Assessed in Report

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has released results of a study assessing vulnerability of the national transportation infrastructure that relies on the Global Positioning System (GPS).

The study finds that GPS is susceptible to unintentional disruption from such causes as atmospheric effects, signal blockage from buildings, and interference from communications equipment, as well as potential deliberate disruption. It contains recommendations to address the possibility of disruption and ensure safety of the national transportation infrastructure.

The report was mandated by a Presidential Decision Directive and prepared by the DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y Mineta charged the administrators of each DOT operating administration to thoroughly review this report and consider the adequacy of backup systems for each area of operation in which GPS is being used for critical transportation applications. Administrators are to report their findings back to Mineta within 60 days.

DOT, in consultation with the Department of Defense, sponsored the study. Among the report's recommendations:

  • Create awareness among the aviation, maritime, and surface user communities of the vulnerability of GPS and the need to reduce degradation or loss of the GPS signal.

  • Implement systems to monitor, report, and locate unintentional interference to GPS.

  • Assess applicability of military GPS anti-jamming technology and work with DOD and industry to make appropriate technologies available for civilian uses.

  • Identify appropriate backup systems, integrity warning, or operational procedures for each safety-critical application.

  • Encourage developing low-cost systems as GPS backups.

  • Continue GPS modernization involving higher GPS broadcast power and eventual availability of three civil frequencies.

The report, Vulnerability Assessment of the Transportation Infrastructure Relying on the Global Positioning System, has been made available to the public. It may be obtained via the Coast Guard Navigation Center web site at www.navcen.uscg.gov/.

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