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Jarrod32

GPS system in jeopardy?

11 posts in this topic

From the UK's "Guardian" HSOforum:

It has become one of the staples of modern, hi-tech life: using satellite navigation tools built into your car or mobile phone to find your way from A to B. But experts have warned that the system may be close to breakdown.

US government officials are concerned that the quality of the Global Positioning System (GPS) could begin to deteriorate as early as next year, resulting in regular blackouts and failures – or even dishing out inaccurate directions to millions of people worldwide.

The warning centres on the network of GPS satellites that constantly orbit the planet and beam signals back to the ground that help pinpoint your position on the Earth's surface.

The satellites are overseen by the US Air Force, which has maintained the GPS network since the early 1990s. According to a study by the US government accountability office (GAO), mismanagement and a lack of investment means that some of the crucial GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as next year.

"It is uncertain whether the Air Force will be able to acquire new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service without interruption," said the report, presented to Congress. "If not, some military operations and some civilian users could be adversely affected."

The report says that Air Force officials have failed to execute the necessary steps to keep the system running smoothly.

Although it is currently spending nearly $2bn (£1.3bn) to bring the 20-year-old system up to date, the GAO – which is the equivalent of Britain's National Audit Office – says that delays and overspending are putting the entire system in jeopardy.

"In recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within cost and schedule goals," said the report. "It encountered significant technical problems … [and] struggled with a different contractor."

The first replacement GPS satellite was due to launch at the beginning of 2007, but has been delayed several times and is now scheduled to go into orbit in November this year – almost three years late.

The impact on ordinary users could be significant, with millions of satnav users potential victims of bad directions or failed services. There would also be similar side effects on the military, which uses GPS for mapping, reconnaissance and for tracking hostile targets.

Some suggest that it could also have an impact on the proliferation of so-called location applications on mobile handsets – just as applications on the iPhone and other GPS-enabled smartphones are starting to get more popular.

Tom Coates, the head of Yahoo's Fire Eagle system – which lets users share their location data from their mobile – said he was sceptical that US officials would let the system fall into total disrepair because it was important to so many people and companies.

"I'd be surprised if anyone in the US government was actually OK with letting it fail – it's too useful," he told the Guardian.

"It sounds like something that could be very serious in a whole range of areas if it were to actually happen. It probably wouldn't damage many locative services applications now, but potentially it would retard their development and mainstreaming if it were to come to pass."

The failings of GPS could also play into the hands of other countries – including opening the door to Galileo, the European-funded attempt to rival America's satellite navigation system, which is scheduled to start rolling out later next year.

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Lots of speculation based on a few sources. Typical of journalism these days. We'll just have to see if the "disaster" develops or if, like Y2K, it doesn't.

If there really are these deficiencies in a crucial military defense technology, the Air Force and the government already know about them, and we already know that neither the Air Force nor Congress responds to the American people, so the news story won't impact the situation.

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I read that article off of "Drudge" this morning and couldn't help but chuckle. Somebody is getting their leg pulled, in my opinion. Do you actually think that America would abandon one of their most essential systems - it's used for TONS of things - military - travel - agriculture - planes, etc.

In my opinion, this is a non-story. Are their difficulties? Are they behind on fixing/upgrading? Perhaps - but it's not going to fail...

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The point of the story is that the fleet of GPS satellites is aged and apparently some are at the end of their useful life. This is not anything out of the ordinary for satellites as they, just like anything else, have a limited life expectancy.

It wouldn't be too hard to believe that one or more of these birds could fail in the near future and this could cause "blackouts" of GPS signals depending on your location. As it was mentioned in the story, they have been behind in sending up replacement satellites so who knows what could happen in the next year or more.

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. . . so who knows what could happen in the next year or more.

Nobody in the media knows.

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God help us if we have to back to the old way of fishing useing only the Locator or as some would say, the depth finder...

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Originally Posted By: LMITOUT
. . . so who knows what could happen in the next year or more.

Nobody in the media knows.

The column was based on word from "government officials" as well as a report from the GAO.

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Originally Posted By: Steve Foss
Originally Posted By: LMITOUT
. . . so who knows what could happen in the next year or more.

Nobody in the media knows.

The column was based on word from "government officials" as well as a report from the GAO.

Come on now. Be your age. That's how it works. Media pukes with little expertise in the field get tips from gov folks with axes to grind, and the same tired old dance keeps on keeping on. This is a point you yourself have made before.

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Only need 3 satellites to get your location. Quite a few more than 3 available at any given time currently that your GPS can lock onto. Guess I'm saying we'll need about half of them to take a [PoorWordUsage] before we'll have a big problem.

Didn't the Hubble just exceed the life expectancy of the experts. I think one of the Mars rovers did as well. Do we really know how long these things are going to last once we put them up there? Educated Guess?

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Originally Posted By: LMITOUT
Originally Posted By: Steve Foss
Originally Posted By: LMITOUT
. . . so who knows what could happen in the next year or more.

Nobody in the media knows.

The column was based on word from "government officials" as well as a report from the GAO.

Come on now. Be your age. That's how it works. Media pukes with little expertise in the field get tips from gov folks with axes to grind, and the same tired old dance keeps on keeping on. This is a point you yourself have made before.

Do you hear black helicopters over your house right now?

According to the column there is nothing about "hot tips" or sources that wish to not be identified. It was based on a study by the GAO which was reported to Congress....apparently not classified "eyes only". I've read a handful of different articles about this story and all of them have taken some liberties in painting the picture of what COULD happen. But it also lays out the simple facts of an aging GPS system. Not much harm in that.

I have to smile when people think that they're going to go out some day and turn on their GPS and nothing happens. That's not the point of the column! It's just saying that the fleet of satellites has run it's course and there hasn't been any maintenance or improvements made and now they're getting close to the end of their life expectancy. That's all. It's not Y2K and you won't have to dust off the old compass.

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Typical Media and government working together to slowly break the rest of the population in so that there can be some form of capitalization back from the usage of the gps system. Give it a year if not less and government will allow companies a way to charge for the usage through some sort of prepaid sd card slot or other form. Either that or they'll throw in some riduculous tax on every product purchased with gps capability to fund the additional so called unforeseen maintenence expense. This sounds like typical government softening the population for another added expense. Me actually if it came to it I'd shell out the monthly charge to continue to use the features. I rely heavily on GPS daily. Not that I couldn't ever do it the old way again, but why do it when the technology is there. I'm actually suprised this form of technology has been free for this long to begin with. Were officially a service orientated country and We need ways to create jobs and revenue to continue on. If they find a way to create a user subscription or fee for this service we might create a few jobs along the way. I think it's time to invest into google again if this happens.

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