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Vulnerability Assessment of the U.S. Transportation Infrastructure that Relies on the Global Positioning System

  • James V. Carroll (a1)


During the course of its development for military use and more recent extension to many civilian uses, vulnerabilities of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) – in the United States the Global Positioning System (GPS) – have become apparent. The vulnerabilities arise from natural, intentional, and unintentional sources. Increasing civilian and military reliance on GNSS brings with it a vital need to identify the critical vulnerabilities to civilian users, and to develop a plan to mitigate these vulnerabilities. This paper summarizes the findings of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) vulnerability study that addresses these issues. The key findings are that satellite navigation users are vulnerable to several classes of disruption that affect all transportation modes and related infrastructure; but also that the vulnerabilities can be mitigated by awareness, planning, and using independent backup systems and/or alternate procedures in safety-critical applications. To gain the full benefits of GNSS, it will be necessary to analyse safety-of-life vulnerabilities in detail, and to determine the means and costs of reducing these risks to acceptable levels. The complete assessment report, of which this paper is a synopsis, was released to the public on September 10, 2001. Although the basic findings apply to all GNSS, the assessment focused on the GPS, in response to the enabling Presidential Decision Directive.



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The theme of NAV02 was GNSS Vulnerability and the Institute invited Dr. James Carroll a co-author of the Volpe Report to be the Keynote speaker. Dr. Carroll has been with the Center for Navigation at the Volpe Center for twelve years. He is currently directing the Volpe Center efforts on the GPS vulnerability assessment project and in the production of the Federal Radionavigation Plan.




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