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IEEE to develop PNT standard

Photo: Konstik/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: Konstik/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Accurate and reliable positioning, timing and navigation (PNT) technologies, such as GPS, have become “invisible utilities” that enable many critical applications, including the electric grid, telecommunications, agriculture and port operations. These systems, however, are vulnerable to accident and attack, including cyber threats and jamming.

Therefore, the Science and Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Risk Management Center of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have been working in collaboration with industry and government stakeholders to develop the Resilient PNT Conformance Framework, which provides a common framework for defining resilient PNT systems and addresses strategic risks to U.S. national critical infrastructure. This work is now transitioning to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as the Standards Working Group for Resilient PNT User Equipment (P1952) and will help serve as starting resources for the refinement and development of a standard.

By creating common definitions for different levels of resilient PNT systems, this new standard will enable vendors to differentiate their products from non-resilient PNT systems, as well as enable end-users to make deliberate, risk-informed decisions as to which systems are most appropriate for their applications and needs. The development of this voluntary standard will help influence the future design, acquisition and deployment of resilient PNT systems within our national critical infrastructure.

The IEEE standards process is an inclusive one, designed to gather many stakeholders interested in resilient PNT. If you would like to participate in the standards working group, just notify the group’s chair (Shelby Savage at or its secretary (Patricia Larkoski at Voting membership requires sufficient participation in work group meetings.

The development of this voluntary standard will help influence the future design, acquisition and deployment of resilient PNT systems.

After the standards working group votes to approve the draft standard, it will be submitted to the membership of the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA) for final approval. The IEEE Standards Balloting Center will then send an invitation to any SA members it knows to be interested in the subject matter of the proposed standard, and anyone answering the invitation affirmatively will have a right to vote on the final standard.

Compared to the early days of GPS, PNT systems have become highly sophisticated pieces of equipment with a multitude of components, both hardware and software, along with associated vulnerabilities. Additionally, with a wide array of stakeholders and a variety of ideas on what PNT resilience means, getting consensus and developing such a standard would be challenging without an established process.

To help address this challenge, DHS developed the Resilient PNT Conformance Framework with input from industry stakeholders to establish baseline concepts on the definition of resilience and necessary behaviors within resilient PNT systems. DHS designed this framework to be outcome-based and non-prescriptive, to encourage industry innovation.

“To address security and resilience, GPS and PNT receivers need to be treated more like computers rather than radios,” said Ernest Wong, technical manager for the Science and Technology Directorate. “The refinement of the Resilient PNT Conformance Framework into industry standards will help to ensure that future PNT receivers are resilient and designed to withstand and recover from threats.”

Editor’s Note: This article does not represent a formal position of P1952 Working Group, Communications Society Standards Committee, IEEE, or IEEE SA.

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