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Secret UK Network Hunts GPS Jammers 228

Posted by samzenpus
from the hunt-you-down dept.
garymortimer writes "A secret network of 20 roadside listening stations across the UK has confirmed that criminals are attempting to jam GPS signals on a regular basis. From the article: 'Government-funded trials involving the police have revealed more than a hundred incidents of GPS jammer use in the UK. The Sentinel project, which has been running since January 2011, was designed to measure GPS jamming on UK roads. The project, run by GPS-tracking company Chronos Technology, picked up the illegal jamming incidents via four GPS sensors in trials lasting from two to six months per location.'"
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Secret UK Network Hunts GPS Jammers

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  • by Tarmas (954439) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:14AM (#39134347) Homepage
    FTFA:

    "People illegally jam GPS for a number of reasons, Curry told the audience at the conference at the National Physical Laboratory. These include evasion of company-vehicle or covert tracking, and stealing high-value vehicles."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:31AM (#39134443)

    When you consider that a criminal will also monitor police radios as well.

    UK
    Google TETRA, or Terrestrial Trunked Radio..
    Ain't that easy anymore....

  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:10AM (#39135051) Journal

    that's a whole lot of bullshit right there.

    i know wikipedia is not a reliable source for any argumentation, but here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchroscope [wikipedia.org]

    this is what's in use on power grids all over the world since the concept of interconnected generators was invented.

  • Time Well Spent (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:53AM (#39135225)

    Here's a more in-depth article on this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17119768
    Where the project leader said "We believe there's between 50 and 450 occurrences in the UK every day".
    This might sound bad as that's thousands in a week! So how come our Satnavs still work?

    That's because it means that by their estimates, there are only at most 450 people in the whole country using the jammers; and seeing as most people make a journey, then make a return journey later, that figure may be half that.

    So is this really as bad as they make out?
    "In one location the Sentinel study recorded more than 60 GPS jamming incidents in six months."
    That's only 10 a month in a blackspot, and as that's only twice a week - it means there's probably only one person on that stretch of road using a jammer.

    The article also says "the project received £1.5m funding", and has so far only caught one person.

    Nice to know the money's being put to good use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:32AM (#39135417)

    I'm a Protection Engineer. We have GPS at every substation in order to timestamp, down to the millisecond, faults. Helps us determine where the fault started, who tripped first, etc. It's a protection coordination thing. It's also required for Synchrophasors, which is a way to monitor power flows, system stability, and system disturbances at a very fine level. When you have several readings coming in from geographically spread out locations, all with the same down-to-the-millisecond timestamp, you can get a good feel on how the transmission grid is performing.

  • by commlinx (1068272) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:35AM (#39135423) Journal
    I'm far from an expert on power distribution, but doing some work with GPS some years a potential client contacted me about a custom IRIG-B timing signal generator using GPS as the clock reference. The project didn't go ahead but from my understanding during initial discussions you're correct about a PLL type sync required to the local grid and that it takes time to adjust a generator's frequency. Where GPS timing comes into play are for grids that aren't normally connected so they can re-route power in case of outages and have it perfectly in phase when it comes online without the delays you mention.
  • Re:GLONASS (Score:5, Informative)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:55AM (#39135509)

    GLONASS is different from GPS in more than just frequency - each satellite has its own specific frequency.

    One of the advantages to this over GPS is that atmospheric disturbances are much easier to cancel out. Might make it harder to jam as well, as you'd need a broader spectrum, but I don't know.

    One disadvantage is, of course, that your receivers have to be able to pick up multiple frequencies.

  • by Technician (215283) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @11:02AM (#39136425)

    You are correct that a syncroscope is used to connect a generator. What you missed is GPS time is used to locate a fault on a line due to the time of propagation of a fault current from the fault to various substations. In a lightning storm a lightning storm and loss of GPS signal can result in bad fault location information. The line will trip out at both ends, but fail to re-energize the line due to a false indication of substations islanding. Re-connecting substations that have islanded is not automatic. The failure to re-connect can result in cascading failures.

    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?arnumber=5542044 [ieee.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @11:50AM (#39136895)

    Me again. You're right, protective relays work fine without GPS. We just use them for event analysis and synchrophasors. Old fashioned synchroscopes are still in use here as well (I've got a job where we're putting a new one in next month).

    Grid would work FINE without GPS. Event analysis and reporting wouldn't work fine, but the grid would. There are far easier and low-tech ways to seriously interrupt the power system though.

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