GPS backup bill introduced in House

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, introduced the bipartisan National Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Resilience and Security Act of 2015, H.R. 1678.

The bill would require the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Coast Guard and Transportation Department, to establish and sustain a reliable, land-based positioning and navigation system that will complement and backup the nation’s Global Positioning System (GPS) for military and civilian uses. It would take advantage of the government’s existing and underused ground-based long-range navigation system infrastructure — Loran.

 “GPS is much more than a LCD screen on your dashboard. It’s a technology used for much of our nation’s critical infrastructure and by almost every major industry in America, as well as the military, law enforcement, and first responders,” Garamendi said. “We are increasingly reliant on the precision, navigation, and timing services that GPS provides. From land navigation on cell phones to a timing source for our national infrastructure, we need a reliable backup system to GPS.”

The bipartisan bill would establish a system to backup GPS, “making our nation’s geopositioning infrastructure more resilient to threats both natural and nefarious,” Garamendi added. “A backup system could also reach places that GPS currently cannot, such as inside many buildings. This would help first responders and law enforcement more effectively protect the public.”

The backup system required by H.R. 1678 would step in when GPS signals are corrupted, degraded, unreliable, or otherwise unavailable. It would take advantage of the government’s existing and underused long-range navigation system infrastructure. Unlike GPS, which relies on satellites, Loran is ground-based, making it less susceptible to atmospheric interruption.

Our reliance on satellite-based GPS signals for PNT data is a growing national economic and security liability because GPS signals can easily be jammed, spoofed, degraded or corrupted.

The terrestrial PNT system would use enhanced long range signals (E-Loran) from 19 towers around the U.S., each with approximately a 1,000-mile range providing overlapping fields from which a device can derive its location.

The bill is supported by a bipartisan coalition of House members, including the current Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the former Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank Lobiondo (R-CA-02), and the Ranking Member (top Democrat) of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04).

Since 2004, the Federal government has recognized that the absence of a reliable backup system for GPS is a glaring economic and security threat to the U.S.

About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.

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