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Executive Order requires resilience of critical PNT infrastructure

February 12, 2020  - By
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On Feb. 12, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order establishing a comprehensive national policy to promote the responsible use of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services by the federal government.

The order directs federal agencies to take steps to reduce disruption of critical infrastructure that relies on PNT, including GPS. It also directs critical infrastructure owners and operators to strengthen their systems’ resilience.

Markets affected include including the electrical power grid, communications infrastructure and mobile devices, all modes of transportation, precision agriculture, weather forecasting and emergency response.

The federal government will engage both the public and private sectors to identify and promote responsible use of PNT services, with the goal of ensuring that “critical infrastructure can withstand disruption or manipulation of PNT services.”

“Because of the widespread adoption of PNT services, the disruption or manipulation of these services has the potential to adversely affect the national and economic security of the United States,” the order states. “To strengthen national resilience, the Federal Government must foster the responsible use of PNT services by critical infrastructure owners and operators,” the order reads.

PNT Profiles

The Commerce Department is tasked with developing PNT profiles, due a year from today, for PNT-dependent  systems, networks and assets. The profiles will be developed through consultation with the private sector.

The profiles will also:

  • identify appropriate PNT services;
  • detect the disruption and manipulation of PNT services; and
  • manage the associated risks to the systems, networks and assets dependent on PNT services.

The profiles will be reviewed and updated every two years.

Reaction to the Order

Reacting to the Executive Order on PNT,  J. David Grossman, executive director of the GPS Innovation Alliance (GPSIA), stated:

“The GPS Innovation Alliance (GPSIA) welcomes today’s Executive Order recognizing the critical economic and societal benefits of GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Resiliency is among the core attributes that have made GPS the gold standard for delivering positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) functions to our military as well as a wide range of other sectors, including transportation, agriculture, electricity, and finance. Today’s Executive Order represents a crucial next step in ongoing efforts to maintain the security, robustness, and redundancy of PNT capabilities, including GPS, that millions of Americans rely on every day. GPSIA looks forward to working with key government stakeholders to support the implementation of this effort.”

The Department of Transportation stated,

“Our challenge is to enable increased resilience across our transportation systems and ensure the traveling public and freight transporters experience an increased level of safety and efficiency without the possibility of interference caused by loss or manipulation of PNT.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf said,

“From mobile phone applications to automobile navigation, our digital, interconnected society is dependent every day on PNT services.That is why it’s critically important that PNT services remain properly functioning as a major component of the nation’s critical infrastructure. By adopting responsible use of PNT services, the federal government and owners and operators of critical infrastructure can contribute meaningfully to national resilience and ensure the continuous, uninterrupted delivery of services to the nation.”

Photo: adamkaz/E+/Getty Images

Photo: adamkaz/E+/Getty Images

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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