Critical Infrastructure is typically constructed in a tiered manner beginning with a set of core sites that are connected to secondary sites that are ultimately connected to remote sites. For example, in the case of a telecom and/or mobile network, the core sites are large central offices that feed smaller offices that then feed remote cabinets and/or base station sites. With the rollout of future 5G networks, densification and massive deployment of wireless access points will improve coverage and enable higher bandwidths to support the promise of IoT and related services. As a second example, within power utility infrastructure, the core power grid network is augmented and expanded with alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind. This transformation creates higher volumes and more dispersed nodes as energy management transitions to the smart grid.
At the foundation of critical infrastructure buildout is the use of PNT delivered using GNSS. According to the GNSS Market Report, Issue 5, copyright European GNSS Agency, 2017, professional market © segments such as Maritime, Rail, Telecom/Utility/Enterprise, Surveying, Aviation, Agriculture, and Drones, which use GNSS devices to operate their infrastructures, benefit billions of people globally on a day-to-day basis—from providing enjoyable produce of sustainable and cost-effective agriculture, to efficiently coordinating transport networks, or even leveraging on GNSS-synchronized telecommunications networks. The total installed base of GNSS devices in these professional segments was estimated at 14.4 million units in 2015 and is expected to grow to 97.8 million units by 2025.
This expansion of Critical Infrastructure is driving a massive deployment of GNSS, thus creating an exponential increase in dependency on GNSS. In many cases, operators of Critical Infrastructure are not able to maintain accurate records of all GNSS receiver locations, and the exposure of this error has caught many by surprise.
Additionally, GNSS contributes to a rapidly diversifying range of applications and use cases. GNSS-delivered PNT is now a foundational function enabling Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Mobile Health, Augmented Reality, Smart Cities, and Multimodal Logistics. Arguably, GNSS-delivered PNT has become the most fundamentally important resource fueling the new information/data economy.
“With great power comes great responsibility” is certainly true with today’s GNSS use by Critical infrastructure. Because there is so much dependency on GNSS, the impact of errors or interruptions is now more significant than ever before.
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