The Department of Homeland Security demonstrated its on-going concern about the need for positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) for critical infrastructure this week with a Broad Area Announcement from their Science and Technology directorate.

The “Assured Timing for Critical Infrastructure” solicitation lists three topic areas:

  • Development of Assured Timing Technologies
  • System-level Testing and Analysis (e.g. what would be the results of a 30+ day, undetected timing disruption or timing denial?)
  • Development of Timing Manipulation Detection Techniques

Desired attributes of assured timing technologies are listed as:

  • Performance equivalent or better than GPS in terms of accuracy, availability, continuity & integrity. The minimum timing objective is 1 microsecond. (Editor’s notes: (1) We assume that this references the GPS performance standard, vice actual measured performance. (2) The 1 microsecond requirement also appears in the 2014 Federal Radionavigation Plan as meeting the needs of most all users.)
  • The proposed solution may be at the local, regional or wide-scale level
  • The end product should be low cost and easily integrated into existing critical infrastructure operations.

Lots more interesting things in the announcement, especially for those in the APNT business. Read it here.

On the one hand, it is good to see another federal government effort to explore what is possible for PNT. This continuation of DHS’ efforts adds to projects by DARPA, NIST, the Navy, Army, and others.

On the other hand, the federal government has had a mandate to put a solution for critical infrastructure in place since 2004, identified the solution in 2008 and reconfirmed that solution in 2015.  Yet nothing has been done. The responsible government agency hasn’t even been named.

It’s good to push the boundaries of science and technology and continue development. God bless the technologists for their efforts.

It’s better if this is done at the same time as protecting America with what we know works. The policy makers need to do their jobs also.