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GPS outage could cost $1 billion per day, study finds

By mongeese · 34 replies
Jun 15, 2019
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  1. A state-sponsored study into the use of GPS in the US can answer that question. In the first day, not much would happen. The second day, cellular networks start falling out of sync and shipping, mining, and agriculture industries grind to a halt. By the third day, most networks are down and the problem is inescapable, causing losses of almost $1 billion. Each day more networks fail, communications are severed, navigation errors delay more shipments and more money goes down the drain. Over the course of a typical month, damages would be in the ballpark of $1 billion per day, or up to $1.5 billion during key months in agriculture.

    Since 1984, when the GPS network was opened up to commercial use, its value in the US economy has increased exponentially. While GPS technology has generated (very) roughly $1,354 billion from 1984 to 2017, over $300 billion was created in 2017. Approximately 90% of its value has appeared since 2010.

    The largest user has been telecommunications, which employed the GPS network to “improve reliability and bandwidth utilization” to make $685,990 million. Next was telematics, which is everyone that uses GPS to increase efficiency and save money in otherwise unrelated areas, which made $325,182 million. Third was you and I, who’ve made companies like Google $215,702 million by using GPS in our smartphones and devices.

    The ubiquity of GPS technology, and its foreign competitors is not to be understated. While only some industries rely on it heavily, such as telecommunications which require it to sync and control their networks, it has replaced almost every other positioning and timing technology due to its convenience. Even the maritime industry, which could use other technologies just fine, is now completely dependent. Let’s just hope that the unthinkable doesn’t happen, and the GPS network stays switched on and without fault.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,067   +1,190

    Massive solar flare, rogue state attack, meteor cloud - not unthinkable. So we should at least 'think about it'.
    TempleOrion and p51d007 like this.
  3. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,966   +1,230

    As long as the sun is quiet....cycle 24, which is ending has been VERY quiet, 25, appears to be headed to being as quiet as 24, which should "help" keep the satellites protected from CME's.
    Some ***** in their basement on the other hand, acting a a client of a rouge state, could take the entire thing down if they figure out how to hack it. When the GPS was first put up, the programmers probably never really dreamed someone would want to take it down. If it did go down, I'd say about 90% of those that depend on it for whatever reason, couldn't use a paper map if they had to. Yeah, I know GPS is used for more than finding your way from point A to B, but you get my drift. If GPS, power grid, gas/oil/trucking went down and there were no way to move goods from point A to B, many people, especially those in more urban areas, would DIE because they don't have and haven't had the skills taught to them (for obvious reasons) on how to survive.
    BMAN61 likes this.
  4. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,941   +1,490

    Can't forget alien invasion.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  5. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,067   +1,190

    I'll count on you to do the thinking on that.:laughing:
  6. Skjorn

    Skjorn TS Maniac Posts: 345   +195

    Did I just read 686 thousand million. Wouldn't that be 686 billion?
  7. yeeeeman

    yeeeeman TS Addict Posts: 169   +141

    No problem in my country, we still have human drivers on tractors and on combines harvesters.
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,390   +3,779

    My biggest concern is all the space junk there now and all those little satellite's that are soon to be launched; I know it's a big sky up there but it's filling up fast ......
  9. lexster

    lexster TS Maniac Posts: 466   +233

    Right? I haven't used GPS in years. I refuse to depend on it and life is just fine.
    You really have no idea how big space is. To cause the problem you suggest, we would have to deplete the entire Earth of metal, including the core, 100 times over and stick it all in geosynchronous orbit for that to be a problem.
    psycros likes this.
  10. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,715   +2,514

    Actually the space junk is becoming a serious problem. It all has to be tracked and some countries don't report what they put up to international authorities. Anything military launched by China, N Korea, etc is almost certain to be kept quiet. Thankfully the western nations have the technology to detect it anyway. Further, you've people like Elon Musk wanting to put thousands of micro-sats in orbit which only complicates things.
  11. lexster

    lexster TS Maniac Posts: 466   +233

    You are talking about problems in low-Earth orbit regions. GPS satellites operate in geosynchronous orbit, which is much further out. Orbital debris is not a problem out there.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,290

    Um, no, they are not in geosynchronous orbit - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System
  13. lexster

    lexster TS Maniac Posts: 466   +233

    My mistake. However that does not change my point. Orbital debris problems generally only effect low-earth orbit because that is where most(if no all) launch system stages have separation procedures which is what creates most of the debris in orbit. Medium, Geo-stationary and high orbital areas do not have nearly as much debris because of this..
    TempleOrion likes this.
  14. bluetooth fairy

    bluetooth fairy TS Booster Posts: 91   +63

    It was sarcasm by Torus, I guess,
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  15. bluetooth fairy

    bluetooth fairy TS Booster Posts: 91   +63

    Over the course of a typical month, damages would be in the ballpark of $1 billion per day, or up to $1.5 billion during key months in agriculture.

    US with the help of other countries (Russia, China, India, etc) could launch needed satellites again. I'm pointing on this because they are probably also dependent on GPS infrastructure.

    When a problem is global it is solving by combined efforts.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  16. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,067   +1,190

    Which is why it is important to prepare for the alien invasion.:D
  17. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 673   +571

    In our country, tractors have GPS and soil analysis detectors on them so you know how much of each fertilizer component to use both this year and next. Keeps waste, runoff, and prices down.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  18. yeeeeman

    yeeeeman TS Addict Posts: 169   +141

    In my country, people use old seeds from a few generations back that aren't genetically modified and have a much better taste. Here people care more about health and less about getting rich. At least not from the food we all eat. So, frankly, I am happy we are still in the pre tech age when it comes to agriculture.
    BMAN61 and lexster like this.
  19. H4nz0

    H4nz0 TS Rookie

    Russia, China and India have their own satellite navigational systems (GLONASS, BeiDou and IRNSS respectively) and require support of these systems from manufacturers of devices being sold in their territories.
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,290

    Space junk is a problem. IMO, characterizing it like this:
    under-estimates the problem. Though there is less junk in medium earth orbit, there is still junk there.
    In particular, this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_West_Ford
    All junk is not tracked - especially small particles. At the speeds orbital that these particles travel, even a small particle could easily take out a satellite especially if it hit on the right trajectory. KE = 1/2mv^2. At orbital speeds, that v squares to a very large value.
    More on space junk:
  21. ZipperBoi

    ZipperBoi TS Member Posts: 21   +23

    This is the same for rural America. Farmers in my home town still drive themselves and only a few use any form of GPS when planting or harvesting. Our main ag would be fine.
  22. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 673   +571

    Psst..... all seeds are genetically modified.

    However if you want to play the "natural is better" game, feel free to go back to the wild variants of your food crops and attempt to eat those. Half contain tiny fractions of the nutrients and calories you need and the other half contain enough natural toxins to make them less healthy than eating nothing.
  23. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,290

  24. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 673   +571

  25. Roush60

    Roush60 TS Rookie Posts: 23   +13

    The biggest impact at first would be trans-oceanic shipping. I bet there is no one alive in the maritime services that knows how to use star charts, a sextant and a compass to plot a position on the earth's oceans. These skills were once required for any captain and or pilot for any ship that travelled out of sight of any land mass on the earth, whether it be an island or continent. How many adults these days know how to read a paper road map? Probably not many and certainly even less if they are younger than 35 to 40 years old.
    BMAN61 likes this.

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