“In the few weeks since the review of satellite determined position and time was released, the government has and continues to act. Some would say unusually fast, but this shows how important this issue and the challenges it raises, are being taken.” Andy Proctor, Innovate UK

Blog Editor’s Note:  Saying “…but even from the outside, and typically we British do not shout about it, a great deal of action has been taken already” Andy Proctor, PNT Lead from Innovate UK, blogged yesterday about his government’s actions for PNT resilience. After summarizing the results of the recent “Blackett Review,” Proctor cited several things that the UK government has done, and hints at more in the works. 

UK Government responds to GNSS dependence – call for action

There has been much hype in the GNSS community around a recent report from the Government’s Office for Science (GO-Science) that investigated the dependencies of the UK’s critical services to satellite navigation technology, specifically Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as the American GPS system. The report called for some action and with typical British understatement and quiet resolve, things are happening.

Summarizing the report’s recommendations, Proctor says they are:

  • First – ensure that across government and the critical services in the UK, the risks, hazards and likelihoods of problems with GNSS are better understood, which leads to being able to make judgements on overall dependence based upon hard evidence. Sometimes a risk is acceptable therefore, a decision that no further action is needed can be made, but that decision needs to be understood and reviewed from time to time.
  • Second – focus on having the right legislative framework in place to protectthe spectrum and GNSS devices from adjacent and in-band harmful interference. In this area it is recognised that there are many threats to the GNSS band and the UK should use existing and investigate new legislative measures to continue its efforts to mitigate this form of threat.
  • Third – perhaps the most complex area is around changing the way that the UK government operates with respect to PNT (Positioning, Navigation & Timing) how it pools its PNT expertise and how it can provide the necessary advice to be able to procure and operate trusted, resilient and robust systems (toughen) that use PNT data that reduce the dependence upon a single source. (augment) It is the actions in this area that the discussion about GNSS backups will take place.

Regarding some of the actions taken so far:

  • UK’s Innovation Agency, has contracted to audit the UK’s PNT testing facilities (recommendation 9) and will report in early April. This will identify our capability in this area and identify gaps and areas for innovation investment (if any).
  • The Cabinet Office have also re-organised PNT governance in the heart of government. The UK already has a structure in the National Security framework that addresses resilience and infrastructure matters across all risks and hazards, but now added to this structure is a new group looking specifically at the Blackett Review [into GNSS dependency] recommendations. This group is empowered at the policy and decision making level to get things done. Reporting into this new group is a second new group, the formalisation of the existing cross-government PNT working group. (Recommendation 7) The existing PNT working group is informal and as noted in the review, not a policy advisory body, but has been instrumental in raising the profile of PNT and the need to protect, toughen and augment GNSS within the UK government.