Blog Editor’s Note: The Washington Post just published an opinion piece by RNT Foundation President Dana Goward:
Dana Goward is president of the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation.
This week’s confirmation hearings for homeland security secretary and transportation secretary were notable for something not discussed: the fact that the two departments have failed for 12 years to comply with presidential orders to eliminate one of the most serious threats to the security and economy of the United States.
America’s Global Positioning System is a technological miracle and our gift to the world. Highly precise and free for use anywhere one can see the sky, the system’s timing and location signals have been incorporated into numerous essential technologies. Cellphone networks, first-responder radio systems, computer and financial networks, even electrical grids — all depend on GPS.
At the same time, GPS signals are weak and easy to disrupt. Illegal jamming devices are readily available on the Internet and are used by criminals, terrorists, even delivery drivers who don’t want to be tracked by their employers, to name just a few. Our national adversaries have no problems jamming GPS reception over large areas, and often do so. Solar weather can also be a problem, charging the ionosphere and preventing signals from getting through. Even poorly rigged television antennae can block GPS reception by reflecting signals and confusing receivers.