What if our GPS goes down


Hey, it wasn’t too long ago - just 25 years that this wouldn’t have been  an issue. 

More dependency on things electric.

GPS is vital to Americans, but hacking it has never been easier. Protecting the civilian Global Positioning System, an invisible utility the federal government pays for, falls to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He would do well to use the results of the Transportation Department’s January report on technologies that can back up GPS and keep the country moving in a pinch.

In addition to hacking,  the GPS  satellites,  can be damaged by electromagnetic storms, and even military attack. 

Ironically some GPS interference is unintentional. Recently the Federal Aviation Administration traced pilots’ loss of GPS signal approaching North Carolina’s Wilmington International Airport not to hackers but to competing wireless signals from a nearby sewage plant. “It’s scary to be losing GPS a mile and half from the runway,” Thomas Goodwin, a member of the Wilmington Pilots Association, told me.

The stakes are high. Americans use more than 900 million GPS receivers. You’ll find them in cellphones, commercial trucks and buses, and railroads. More than 100 million cars have navigation systems. Ships, planes and drones use GPS for navigation. Trucks use GPS not only for location services but also for electronic logging devices, which show whether drivers have been driving for too long and getting sleepy. Emergency responders use GPS rather than maps to locate accident sites and get people to the hospital. You don’t want to be waiting for the firetruck or ambulance when GPS is hacked or disrupted.

Americans depend on GPS too much for the federal government to wait for it to fail. A reliable backup is needed as soon as possible.

By Diana Furchtgott-Roth,    Excerpts WSJ 3/19/21