Protect, Toughen, Augment: Words to the Wise from GPS Founder

April 15, 2014  - By 0 Comments

“What can we do to reduce the vulnerability [of GPS] and ensure that the expectations of the public are going to be met?” asked Dr. Bradford Parkinson as he opened his presentation this morning (Tuesday, April 15) at the European Navigation Conference, ENC-GNSS 2014 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Parkinson went through his 61-slide, 50-minute briefing on what he called “PTA” — Protect, Toughen, and Augment — a proposal concerning not only GPS but PNT systems globally. An article by Parkinson based on this talk will highlight the special 25th Anniversary edition of GPS World, to appear in conjunction with this year’s July issue.

Brad Parkinson

Brad Parkinson

After briefly overviewing the many worldwide applications of GPS and its penetration and participation in several vital markets, Parkinson stated “If we want to ensure the economic benefits of GPS, there are some essential needs that a user has. The first need is availability, and I’m defining availability in a certain way. It’s at the required accuracy for the application involved, and it has a bound on the random events that happen out there.

“The second required aspect is integrity, as in ‘I know I’m getting this accuracy, the system is not lying to me.’  In many cases, it’s required that the system not lie to you more often than once in 10 to the seventh (10 million) times.”

Parkinson developed his Protect, Toughen, and Augment proposal in part in response to a remark he heard from a high U.S. government official who opined that “GPS is much too vulnerable, we need to replace it.” While agreeing that the system is vulnerable, Parkinson has strived for a more constructive approach to the problem.

At the end of his presentation, Parkinson introduced one of his colleagues in the audience, from his early days on the GPS Program, and stated that if it was not for Hugo Fruehauf’s expertise with atomic reference systems in 1973, there might never have been a GPS program.

Parkinson was among attendees at an ENC event at City Hall hosted by the Mayor of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. From left are Hugo Fruehauf, Mrs. Bradford "Ginny" Parkinson, Professor Bradford Parkinson, Don Jewell — GPS World Defense Editor, Jac Spaans — Chairman of the Organizing Commitee of the ENC, and Adrianna Spaans.

Parkinson was among attendees at an ENC event at City Hall hosted by the Mayor of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. From left are Hugo Fruehauf, Mrs. Bradford “Ginny” Parkinson, Professor Bradford Parkinson, Don Jewell — GPS World Defense Editor, Jac Spaans — Chairman of the Organizing Commitee of the ENC, and Adrianna Spaans.

Don Jewell

About the Author:

Don Jewell served 30 years in the United States Air Force, as an aviator and a space subject-matter expert. Don’s involvement with GPS and other critical space systems began with their inception, either as a test system evaluator or user. He served two command assignments at Schriever AFB, the home of GPS, and retired as Deputy Chief Scientist for Air Force Space Command. Don also served as a Politico Military Affairs Officer during the Reagan administration, working with 32 foreign embassies and serving as a Foreign Disclosure Officer making critical export control decisions concerning sophisticated military hardware and software. After retiring from the USAF, Don served seven years as the senior space marketer and subject-matter expert for two of the largest government contractors dealing in space software and hardware. Don currently serves on two independent GPS review teams he helped found, and on three independent assessment teams at the Institute for Defense Analyses, dealing with critical issues for the U.S. government. Don has served on numerous Air Force and Defense Scientific Advisory Boards. He writes and speaks extensively on technical issues concerning the U.S. government. Don earned his Bachelor’s degree and MBA; the Ph.D. is in progress.

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