GPS Backup Plans Still Incomplete - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Government // Leadership

GPS Backup Plans Still Incomplete

Agencies tasked with developing backup plans for federally run GPS systems are making insufficient progress.
2 of 2

GPS Block II/IIA satellite.(Source:
GPS Block II/IIA satellite.

2 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Tom Murphy
Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 5:06:56 PM
In the 60s, the government set a goal of going to the moon within a decade and did it.  Now the government can't set up, much less update the GPS system.  I've been watching technology evolve for four decades and have seen amazing things happen, but I'm starting to think that every step forward is getting so expensive and difficult that we may be nearing the summit of Mount Technology. 

Are we entering an era of diminishing returns?
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 12:43:16 PM
Given the billions in value that companies like Google get from GPS, it seems like the US should ask the private sector to kick in some expertise and funding. If ever there was a prime opportunity for some public/private collaboration, this seems like it.
IW Pick
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 12:31:17 PM
GPS Disruptions
As of 2013, the United States NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS are the only fully operational Global Navigation Satellite Systems that provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage. Europe is building its Galileo GNSS, but has launched only a few of what will eventually be 30 satellites (27 operational + 3 active spares). So the good news is, the world is adding capacity and back up potential.

The problem is, the Earth is subject to extreme solar events which can disrupt GNSS signals, and the satellites themselves. One estimate puts the probability of these occurences at 1-in-100 per year. Then there's the growing risk from jamming.  The cost of jamming equipment is low which can affect relative large areas on earth.  So while capacity may be growing, so are the risks of disruption.
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 11:35:57 AM
What would it take?
What would it take to fulfill this requirement? A backup for every satellite in the sky? Is it the failure of individual satellites the biggest concern or some other aspect of the overall system architecture?
Enterprise Guide to Edge Computing
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  10/15/2019
Rethinking IT: Tech Investments that Drive Business Growth
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/3/2019
IT Careers: 12 Job Skills in Demand for 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/1/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
Flash Poll