Out in Front: Resilient navigation and timing

January 11, 2016  - By
1 Comments
Space maps of some of 13,986 satellites, below, and some navigation satellites, above (courtesy Esri).

Space maps of some of 13,986 satellites, below, and some navigation satellites, above (courtesy Esri).

Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron

Advocacy in the U.S. capital urges augmentation of GPS/GNSS with eLoran and other “complementary terrestrial PNT services to increase resilience.” See the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation’s website, rntfnd.org. This is assuredly a good thing, a worthy cause.

I’ve come to believe, however, that true resilience goes beyond what we normally think of as position and timing sensors. Stimulus comes from a keynote lecture by Dawn Wright, Esri chief scientist, at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. I hope Esri or the AGU will publish the lecture or post the video. For now, bear with my limited rendition.

In “Toward a Digital Resilience, with a Dash of Location Enlightenment,” Wright describes the new science of big data: the flood of info from satellites, sensors and other measuring systems; the issues inherent in large data sets; and the insight discovered through their manipulation and exploration. She talks to geographic information systems professionals, software makers and users, but her remarks resonate beyond that associated industry sector and well into that of PNT hardware, where we live.

Integrate, integrate, integrate! Interoperability and crosswalking with other systems and data sets. To make it reproducible, make it virtual — as in virtual, living journals. These are three of the eight ideas toward digital resilience that she espouses, making communities more resilient with tools and data.

I’ll return to this in a later editorial; there’s much around which still to wrap my head. But here’s the moral: resilient PNT will ultimately mean more than complementary sensors. It will entail a seamless mesh of hardware and software, of pre-existing and new data, much of it from sources we don’t currently consider PNT-relevant, of input from amateur app makers and users and more.

It’s a big universe out there.

About the Author:


Alan Cameron is the former editor-at-large of GPS World magazine.

1 Comment on "Out in Front: Resilient navigation and timing"

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  1. Dana Goward says:

    We all exist in space and time. The more ways we can accurately and precisely determine either, the better off we will be.

    A healthy, resilient navigation and timing ecosystem has multiple interconnecting and reinforcing components. (See our graphic: http://rntfnd.org/wp-content/uploads/Multi-LayerFinal.jpg)

    The more numerous and diverse those components, the more resilient and safer we will be.

    Well done, Alan. Looking forward to the next installment.

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