The high tech community here in Syracuse has long been fascinated by the technology behind GPS devices. GPS devices are available all over Syracuse at such retail stores as Best Buy, Walmarts and Target. Aggressive advertising gains the attention of consumers here of course without mentioning any controversy surrounding the value of GPS devices.
David Goldman has now reported for CNNMoney TECH “GPS under attack!”, http://bit.ly/gey4Bw. This report has caught the attention of the Syracuse community which desires a deeper understanding of any problems with GPS technology when this information becomes available to the public. In this manner more well informed decisions can be made here regarding the best GPS device to buy.
In his report Goldman has said the GPS community has complained that LightSquared, which is a new wholesale 4G wireless company, could cause catastrophic interference that would render many GPS services inoperable. However, it appears that the GPS companies may have done considerably more damage to themselves. A study out of the United Kingdom by the Royal Academy of Engineering has found that backups for global navigation services essentially do not exist. Furthermore, GPS is extremely susceptible to hacking, jamming and spoofing by anyone from a malicious attacker to a terrorist.
A take down of GPS would not just negatively impact direction-seekers and people who check into stores on their smartphone applications. It has been estimated that between 6% and 7% of Western countries’ GDP is tied to satellite navigation, and this study has found that a failure of GPS could do upwards of $1 billion of damage to the European Union alone. So yes there really is a possibility of a wireless network interfering with GPS services, and the Royal Academy of Engineering has several recommendations for how to mitigate that effect.
However, not just a wireless network can interfere with GPS. It has been reported that in 2002 a poorly installed closed-circuit TV camera in Douglas, Isle of Man, caused GPS within a kilometer radius to be blocked. This report has found that the reason the GPS community is so susceptible to failure on both a local level and massive level is primarily due to a lack of investment in its own technology. Consider that there are only 32 GPS satellites orbiting the planet, and two of these are inoperable. That is of concern because at least 24 are necessary to make the GPS constellation work.
And so things are rough for GPS companies now as they see their share of the market getting smaller due to the increasing use of smartphones by consumers for satellite navigation. It is clear why the GPS firms are upset about potential interference, especially when this interference emanates from a rival’s network. However, without some serious investments and upgrades to guarantee the protection of their assets this all will not really matter. And so when checking out GPS devices here in Syracuse and elsewhere you should do your homework to determine which firm is working hardest to keep its technology up to date.
Photographer: graur razvan ionut
Mandel News Service: http://www.mandelnews.com