Credit: AEB

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an executive order that calls for a government-wide effort to improve the security and resilience of services that depend on the Global Positioning System for positioning, navigation and timing.

The executive order signed Feb. 12 is titled “Strengthening National Resilience Through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation and Timing Services.”

A senior White House official told reporters that the executive order “serves to highlight how important this utility has become to the functioning of the nation’s critical infrastructure.”

The document directs the executive branch departments and agencies to adopt guidelines for how to manage the risk of disruption to critical infrastructure that they rely on GPS services.

GPS users receive signals from satellites placed into orbit by the Department of Defense. A constellation of about 31 satellites orbit the Earth.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology — the agency that develops cybersecurity standards for different industries — will be in charge of developing PNT cybersecurity guidance, said the White House official.

To help reduce the dependence on GPS for timing services, NIST is offering a timing service for companies, utilities, or organizations that wish to receive and disseminate U.S. civilian standard time using commercial telecommunications networks.

A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement to SpaceNews that DoD “will continue to work with our interagency partners, led by the Department of Commerce, to develop guidance that mitigates the risks of disruption to critical infrastructure that rely on positioning, navigation, and timing services.”

The White House official listed some example of critical capabilities that depend on GPS.

“We have trucks with electronic logging devices to make sure that drivers do not drive past when they are tired. We have general aviation that needs to work in the fog. We have shipping. We have timing signals of traffic lights. We have intelligent transportation systems. We now have electronic tolling. We have precision agriculture,” he said. “PNT is so important to the American people and the traveling public.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...