Little Known Ways To Use GPS In The Fight Against Terrorism

Little Known Ways To Use GPS In The Fight Against Terrorism

While we may tend to think of GPS in terms of its myriad civilian usage, such as navigating car or hiking trips, its military heritage affords is some advantages that can help to make us sleep a little bit better at night. A few to follow…


The US Military Can Restrict the GPS System at its Discretion

While the military interference with the GPS may sound like a hindrance or an unnecessary misuse of power, in actuality, it has some practical applications that form additional protective boundaries from terrorist threats around the general public.

The US Military isn’t normally inclined to restrict the GPS system when it’s working well and is free from potential national security threats, so the vast majority of time, it’s very hands-off. For instance, the US Military has scaled back its limited access ‘Selective Availability’ system from May of 2000 through September of 2006 so that it has gone to nil, and civilian GPS units that were previously not nearly as accurate as military devices are now equipped with the ability to be just as precise.

The lifting of Selective Availability means that GPS is currently free to anyone in the world who can get their hands on a reliable GPS device. However, if a terrorist group or a country with known terrorist sects were to procure GPS-guided weaponry, for instance, the US Military could quickly cut off that group’s access to the GPS system by encrypting the satellite signals – a reassuring thought indeed.

GPS Initiatives Currently in Effect that Guard Against Terrorism

In the wake of September 11th, 2001 in the Uniter States, the wireless E911 mandate was instituted, requiring all cellular carriers to link the location of a caller to any emergency call.

This led to the majority of carriers adopting a handset-based functionality for GPS, so that any person carrying a phone or PDA can rest assured that their location is accessible to emergency services should they need any assistance – and whether they are in circumstances that enable them to verbally provide their location to the emergency services or not. Another added protective measure in the face of an uncertain global climate made possible by GPS!

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2 Responses to “Little Known Ways To Use GPS In The Fight Against Terrorism”

  1. Gee P.S.
    May 12, 2008 at 7:24 am #

    “GPS units that were previously not nearly as accurate as military devices are now equipped with the ability to be just as precise.”

    That’s not technically correct. Civilian GPS uses the Coarse Acquisition (C/A) service found on L1 which, as you point out, is a lot more accurate with Selective Availability turned off. While the military does use a lot of receivers that are C/A-only, the Precision (“P”) and encrypted precision (“P(Y)”) codes provide considerably more accuracy than the 3m you get out of C/A. The reason C/A exists is to give P and P(Y) receivers a good enough time and position reference to figure out where in the P code it should be looking. (C/A repeats once every millisecond, P repeats about once a week.)

    BTW, E911 in the US was mandated by the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act, which was passed in October, 1999, almost two years before 9/11.

  2. Matt
    May 12, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    I wondered about the use of GPS tracking. Are there small GPS tracking devices WITH a 3 day or longer battery life? The longer the battery life the better. The smaller the better. If so, tag all vehicles that come through a checkpoint. If there is a car bomb, determine vehicles in the vacinity that are tracked. Backtrack the GPS trail of those cars activity since they were tagged. You can
    likely find the terroridiots. Once a bomb goes off, you could have a retaliatory hit/strike within minutes on a house or other location.

    I guess if GPS devices aren’t that small or with much batttery life, this idea sucks. If there were a gps tracker the size of a quarter that lasted a week or more, you could do this. The checkpoint would check under the bumpers and fenders. As they checked under the car, they would tag.

    Anyone? Is this possible? Is it possible to make suggestions to the armed forces?

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