Monday, 14 March 2011

GPS: the rest of the press catch up

There's a lot of fuss in the press about a new paper arguing that Satellite Navigation, in the form of the US GPS system, ex-Soviet GLONASS and the EU Galileo system are all vulnerable to failure, and that the country now depends on them working.

This doesn't surprise us, because we made this claim back in 2001, in our article "BMW - No Joy: GPS is a SPOF", using Volpe 2001 as the reference paper. We pointed out that BMW made naive or misleading comments about the reliability of GPS, helping to retain an unrealistic expectation of the failure modes of a tool designed to prosecute a conventional war or the opening exchange of a nuclear war rather than help you get home in time.

We've never mentioned it, but we did get a reply from the ASA on the 29 of November 2009 -a paper one- in which they stated that:
  1. We were the only people that complained.
  2. It was meant to be metaphor, and therefore the fact that the failure of GPS could cause widescale destruction to the national transportation infrastructure was unimportant.
This is somewhat disappointing. The Bristol Traffic project was seventeen months ahead of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and yet the ASA dismissed us because we were the only people in the country who knew what they were talking about. The fact that we were the only organisation to complain is a sign that we are more competent than the rest of the national media, not some daft troublemakers.

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