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First fix: Driving adoption of complementary PNT

November 7, 2023  - By
Image: adamkaz/E+/Getty Images

Image: adamkaz/E+/Getty Images

Warning sirens about the vulnerabilities of GPS to jamming, spoofing, solar activity and other disruptions have been blaring for many years. Now the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which represents other federal civil departments and agencies on all GPS-related matters within the federal government, might finally be moving from study to action. On September 12, at the annual meeting of the Civil GPS Service Interface Committee held in conjunction with ION GNSS+ in Denver, Robert Hampshire, DOT’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Science Officer, announced the release of DOT’s Complementary Positioning Navigation and Timing Action Plan. It aims to drive CPNT adoption across the United States transportation system and within other critical infrastructure areas. You can read more here and download the plan here. 

Which GPS vulnerabilities does DOT aim to address and how quickly can it “drive adoption” of CPNT? Attempting to answer these questions requires pushing through a dense thicket of bureaucratic jargon. I asked Karen Van Dyke, Director for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) and Spectrum Management in Hampshire’s office four questions. What follows are excerpts from her answers. You can read her full response here.

What is your office’s charter within the federal government to advance the development and deployment of complementary PNT?

Her office’s efforts, Van Dyke told me, “support federal policy governing PNT programs and activities for national and homeland security, civil, commercial, and scientific purposes. These include Executive Order 13905, Strengthening National Resilience Through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services (EO 13905) and Space Policy Directive 7, The United States Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy (SPD-7).”

Which GPS vulnerabilities and at what scale is this plan addressing?

The action plan, Van Dyke told me, “addresses disruption, denial, and manipulation of GPS for critical infrastructure sectors” on “both a widespread and local scale.”

How and when will this action plan move the federal government’s posture on CPNT from study to action?

Van Dyke cited field demonstrations conducted in 2020 by the Volpe Center of candidate PNT technologies that could offer complementary service in the event of GPS disruptions and a 2021 report to Congress that distilled the PNT resiliency recommendations. DOT, she said, should develop “system requirements for PNT functions that support safety-critical services” and “standards, test procedures, and monitoring capabilities to ensure that PNT services, and the equipage that utilize them, meet the necessary levels of safety and resilience”.

How does DOT intend to engage PNT stakeholders?

Van Dyke pointed to a PNT Industry roundtable that DOT held in August 2022 that included representatives from CPNT technology vendors and critical infrastructure sectors and “informed the development” of the action plan. She also pointed out that on September 11, DOT issued a request for information “as one of the steps to drive adoption” of CPNT services “to augment GPS for the nation’s transportation system, and through the executive branch interagency process, for other critical infrastructure sectors.”

Stay tuned.

Matteo Luccio | Editor-in-Chief

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at or 541-543-0525.