back to article Report estimates cost of disruption to GPS in UK would be £1bn per day

The UK stands to lose £1bn per day in the event of a major disruption to the Global Positioning System (GPS), according to a government report. Emergency services would also be severely affected and struggle to cope with demand. Longer emergency calls, less efficient dispatch, navigation, and congested roads would mean a total …

Of course the UK could just use the EU’s Galileo GPS system that went live in December.....oh wait, post-Brexit the UK will now have to negotiate, and pay for access to it

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Anonymous Coward

I don't think it's a subscription service so they're out of luck there, but I recon contributing to that is part of the Brexit "divorce settlement"..

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The manufacturers probably have to pay a per-device licence, it won't affect end users, whether the UK is in the EU or not.

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oh wait, post-Brexit the UK will now have to negotiate, and pay for access to it

They could also use GLONASS (as many phones have for years,) and from 2020 most will probably also have the hardware for Beidou 2. For civil use they'd just use the system any licence is paid on hardware.

But planning against the loss of a single sat nav system is a big bit stupid. If the GPS sats are clobbered by a Carrington event, then so will all other sats be. Same with some unexpectedly calamitous space debris or meteorite shower event, or even tit-for-tax satellite shoot downs. So preparing a Plan B needs to assume that satellite coverage is simply unavailable.

Another commentard has made the point about the use of wifi and phone triangulation or mast-location, and that's not so accurate, but I suspect that combining that with inertial navigation to fill in the gaps would be an acceptable alternative. If it were a Carrington event, then there is a problem that the ground and mobile telephony or power systems might have a few other things to worry about.

Maybe, just maybe, we'd have to cope without it? Hipsters and milennials would be dead in days, unable to find convenience stores or craft coffee shops. Those of us able to read a map might survive a lot longer.

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LDS
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Sure, relying on a Russian and Chinese controlled system have no issues, right?

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@winger, if you read the article you'd know there are issues with docking large ships (cause oil tankers crashing in their dock is no big deal) and aumblance drivers not being able to make it to where they are needed as quickly as possible. We could do without just as we could do without other benefits of technology but that doesn't mean it will be a pleasent experience.

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I thought ESA was separate from the EU.

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'Of course the UK could just use the EU’s Galileo GPS system that went live in December.....oh wait, post-Brexit the UK will now have to negotiate, and pay for access to it'

And yet those damned capitalists in the USA let everyone use theirs for free.

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"Of course the UK could just use the EU’s Galileo GPS system that went live in December.....oh wait, post-Brexit the UK will now have to negotiate, and pay for access to it"

The public service is free. There are extra services with improved accuracy and/or resiliency which require a subscription, but they shouldn't change in cost or availability because of Brexit.

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@LDS

"relying on a Russian and Chinese controlled system have no issues, right?

Only if they withhold their use. Since we're talking about civil infrastructure, I can't see the problem - and many devices already use a mix of GPS and GLONASS.

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if you read the article you'd know there are issues with docking large ships

@James51: We've had manually controlled supertankers for many decades. The idea that lack of GPS would be an insurmountable problem is nonsense. You're also overlooking the fact that reliable accuracy of GPS is about 4m. If you were relying on that sort of accuracy to berth a large vessel, you'll find that rather too often the gangplank and cranes don't reach, or that you've wiped a hole twenty five feet deep in the side of the vessel.

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Galileo

Here's Theresa May's plan. It's a much better plan than she's had for pretty much everything else.

Very, very frightening me.

(Galileo) Galileo.

(Galileo) Galileo,

Galileo Figaro

Magnifico-o-o-o-o.

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Happy

@ oxfordmale78

I suppose you have to ask Farage or Boris what you should do, could be you have been exploited and are not fully independent either. Perhaps you should also ask to have your contributions returned.

About ESA:

The European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states, dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,000[5] and an annual budget of about €5.25 billion / US$5.77 billion (2016)"

The UK contribution in mill E (UKSA) 324.8 8.7% of the budget 2016.

Italy 512.0 13.7%

France 844.5 22.6%

Germany 872.6 23.3%

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Space_Agency

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I wondered if enough Galileo satellites would be behind the Earth's shadow in a Carrington Event or a Gamma Ray Burst to keep the system working when they reappeared. Upon checking - they fly at very roughly 4 Earth radiuses altitude, so the answer to the question is "probably not". I haven't investigated the other systems.

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Hipsters and milennials would be dead in days, unable to find a stream or river without a map. Those of us relying on knowledge handed down by our elders might survive a lot longer.

Luddite much?

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Boffin

Carrington events mess up the ionosphere

Coronal Mass Ejections (that's what the Carrington event was) have the potential to send the ionosphere into scintillation (it's what makes stars appear to twinkle) for a few days after impacting the Earth's magnetosphere.

The GPS receiver picks up the signals, but they're being continually, and rapidly, altered in terms of the apparent path length they've travelled from the satellites. This means either very poor resolution, or (more likely) that the GPS signal is told to send a Do Not Use flag until the ionosphere has settled down.

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@Dan 55

ESA is indeed separate from the EU, but Galileo is an EU project* even though most of it is managed by ESA.

The funding and political overtones to the project are complex and stupid, but the underlying idea of having a European system for political and technological independence of the USA or Russia is a fairly good idea.

[*] also with some participation by China, Israel, and others.

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Luddite much?

Go trim your beard before it trails in your soya latte macchiato and drips down your check shirt.

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Hipsters?!?

As one who has been sporting a full beard since I was seventeen (caused great consternation with the principal in high school,) and wearing plaid flannel shirts nearly every day that the high will be less than 45°F, I only have one word for hipsters... Damn!

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Re: @Dan 55

If the GPS sats are clobbered by a Carrington event

These satellites are not known for trailing very long conductive loops, so I doubt this would even be a problem.

As for a Gamma Ray Burster, you will have to redecorate the whole shop in any case, not sure if the remaining 600 million years of biologically usable Earth will be sufficient though.

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Given we part funded it, why should we have to pay for it?

If we have to pay for it, aren't we entitled to a refund?

Or are you simply talking emotional bullshit because all those bigots dared to disagree with you over which government should be running the UK?

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And yet those damned capitalists in the USA let everyone use theirs for free.

Yes, but they reserve the right to switch it off, reduce resolution, etc. at will at any time, without notice.

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Anonymous Coward

"aumblance drivers not being able to make it to where they are needed as quickly as possible."

Erm. No.

Lack of GPS is NOT the reason why ambulance drivers would not be able to make it ASAP.

There are two primary reasons (in order of importance) :

(a) I met someone working on the pointy end of the NHS (not a paramedic, but near enough) in a large city (not London).

"Red 1" calls (most serious) have a target response time of 8 minutes to site.

Number of times "someone" recalled reaching site in 8 minutes ? Zero (or near enough).

Main reason why ? The realities of traffic in a city ... flashing blue lights and lots of noise only get you so far !

Corbynistas may well tell you that this would all be fixed under Labour who would throw yet more money at the NHS. But the reality is it would not. It takes a long time (and quite a bit of money) to train up a paremedic, and that's before extra time spent training your newly trained paramedic how to drive on blues. Add to that, the cost of buying, equipping and maintaining additional ambulances.

(b) The satnav system the NHS use is far from the pinnacle of perfection. I have witnessed, on more than one occasion, an ambulance reaching the destination street and screaming down to one end of a road, only for the crew to realise they found themselves at the wrong end ... cue a u-turn and return back to the right spot.

In summary:

The reality is that you are always going to have a finite level of paramedics and a finite level of ambulances, no matter who is in government.

Hence the reason why everyone should know how to do CPR and everyone should be able to use an AED (and have one nearby). Because to have the best chance of positive outcome, an AED shold be on that chest within 4 minutes max .... no ambulance is going to be with you in 4 minutes unless you live or work next door !

The same goes for recognising stroke. The more people trained in recognition, the faster the ambulance gets called, the greater the chance of meeting the golden hour !

Same could be said for a variety of other emergencies. If you haven't done at least the basic one-day training, go do so NOW !

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Facepalm

If we have to pay for it, aren't we entitled to a refund?

Oh, boy. I do hope you're one of Mr Davis' team of crack (or should that be cracked?) negotiators!

International agreements are strangely very different to restaurant bills. The UK was not pressured into signing up to contributing to the development costs (which largely go to fund UK jobs on the project). As long as the contract is honoured by both sides then their shouldn't be any problems. But should the UK now wish to withdraw from such arrangements then the other counterparties would be under no obligation to honour any of it, including preferential access for companies based in signatory countries.

Rinse and repeat for a whole heap of similar agreements.

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Seems like a pretty ignorant statement. All GNSS systems don't have a direct fee - they all have free access for non-commercial/non-military use.

I can and do access Compass/Beidou, GPS and GLONASS signals in the US all the time. Galileo is not worth it because there just aren't many satellites up yet.

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Happy

Damned capitalists

And yet those damned capitalists in the USA let everyone use theirs for free.

Sooner or later I expect it will occur to that nice Mr Trump that the Mexicans should pay for their GPS as well as their wall. All he has to do it switch the civilian signal off as the satellites overfly countries which haven't coughed up. He will have stumbled onto a good business model - drug dealers often give the heroin away until their clients are addicted.

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"Main reason why ? The realities of traffic in a city ... flashing blue lights and lots of noise only get you so far"

If you have enough people you can distribute them more densely. In 2002 I could almost guarantee that response time - with an HGV not a car - across all of Devon and Cornwall. Cuts and closure of stations has increased that now.

"extra time spent training your newly trained paramedic how to drive on blues."

Two week course.

"The satnav system the NHS use is far from the pinnacle of perfection"

It's a damn site better than the dog-eared map book that the Police get issued with.

"finite level of paramedics and a finite level of ambulances,"

Yes, but you only need a few more to give excellent coverage. And more sensible use of resources (none of this "protecting the front line" that means the front line spends 80% of the time away from the front line doing admin). There is a truly awful story of Ambulance service politics that I can't tell. Hopefully once the coroner has ruled it'll be public.

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Anonymous Coward

Hipsters and milennials would be dead in days, unable to find a stream or river without a map. Those of us relying on knowledge handed down by our elders might survive a lot longer.

Read that as "Hipsters and milennials would be dead in days, unable to find a stream or river with or without a map."

Those of us relying on knowledge handed down by our elders might survive a lot longer.

Luddite. I'd rely on my handy Army Field Manual.

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Re: Galileo

Not really a backup.

If we had a solar flare like in the 19th C, it might knock out ALL satellites.

Does the report even consider Mobile Basestations, DAB and DTT transmitters etc where the GPS module is used purely for timing instead of a local stable clock? Or even one distributed by fibre?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hipsters?!?

>every day that the high will be less than 45°F

We had a day like that four winters or so ago which is why I don't own much flannel any more (beard of course, so much less work than shaving every day lol). Now the rest of this week being 45 C woof. Still never having to shovel snow off my sidewalk or scrape my car windows in the morning makes it worth it.

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While you've addressed the issues raised, none of them are at all relevant - nobody will be calling ambulance, police or any other emergency services unless they physically turn up and knock on the station door.

The timing signals needed to make a digital 'phone network function are derived from and synchronised by GPS units - without them the network will degrade to a non-functioning noise generation device.

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Anonymous Coward

"Two week course."

Remind me ....after how many years training as a paramedic first ? ;-)

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Brexit costs

@Charlie Clark - same rules apply to the demands by the EU for a payout then?

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Re: Galileo

"If we had a solar flare like in the 19th C, it might knock out ALL satellites."

Unlikely - they're not trailing tens of miles of wire behind them.

On the other hand, power and telecommunications networks DO and that makes them vulnerable.

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Anonymous Coward

That said ..

.. the folding map business is likely to make a mint that day, if it still exists.

You can recognise people who work in risk management: they still update their Falk Verlag* maps in their glove compartment. Yes, guilty :)

* They have a very clever, patented technique for map folding.

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Re: That said ..

I usually use a Falk map and post-it notes.

I use the post-its to get from A to B (list of major roads / towns I have to pass and detailed directions for the last couple of miles, with the map there as a backup.

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Re: That said ..

@big_D

and there was me thinking I was being original. I do exactly the same. I draw little maps on the post-it as well for the last bit.

I bought a road map the other week and my partner asked me why on earth I would do such a thing, to which my reply was that it's obvious, you should always have a backup in case your phone dies or the network goes down.

There's also maps.me which is a nice offline map backup.

Top Tip: Rather than downloading on your phone you can get the maps here using something like wget

http://direct.mapswithme.com/direct/latest/ and just copy them across.

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Re: That said ..

I still carry a UK road map and local A-Z. Wife can't understand why and refuses to assist navigating, she just doesn't get it. That business is this reliant on a single time source is concerning. What ever happened to atomic clocks!?

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Trollface

Re: That said ..

"What ever happened to atomic clocks!?"

They put them in satellites and used them to create a global navigation system...

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Re: That said ..

A 2 or 3 in to the Mile map gives the user a better perspective of an area. Something that a small handheld screen can never do very well. Only the Tesla with its huge screen could get close.

As for OS maps... There is a huge amount of detail on them that most Satnavs completel ignore. Got sent down one road and came to a Ford. Not even identified by the SatNav yet clearly marked on the OS map.

I use not together even when I'm on my Motorcycle.

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Re: That said ..

There have been a number of comments saying that users have physical maps.But GPS positioning is not the same as GIS information. I can still use google maps without GPS, why would I need a paper map?

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Re: That said ..

Judging from the time it takes some people to decide at a junction - I think most beige Honda Accords are using sun sightings as a means of navigation.

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Re: That said ..

"most beige Honda Accords are using sun sightings as a means of navigation" - oh, that explains the cars parked on the side of my road, and clearly not moved in the past few weeks.

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Re: That said ..

;)

Whereas the lack of indicators suggests Audi drivers are driving using the Force.

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Re: That said ..

I convert openstreetmap data to Garmin format and put it on my Garmin 62s. So in this case, if GPS would be unavailable, I only have to hook up my Garmin to a laptop and have a nice interactive map in BaseCamp. No need to actually buy any paper maps.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That said ..

I can still use google maps without GPS, why would I need a paper map?

Because paper maps never, ever run out of power?

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Re: That said ..

So in this case, if GPS would be unavailable, I only have to hook up my Garmin to a laptop and have a nice interactive map in BaseCamp

Which presupposes you already know where you are, in which case you wouldn't need GPS/GNSS anyway.

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Re: That said ..

With GPS a navigation system tells me where to go next.

Without GPS, I can turn it into a digital replacement for a paper map, which is more up-to-date and more accurate than a paper map.

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Re: That said ..

"Audi drivers are driving using the Force."

Audi drivers think they are the Force.

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