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November 5th, 2012
Critical GPS Vulnerabilities Highlighted at spatial@gov

“The dependency that we are building on this technology is actually now becoming a sovereignty issue,” Mr Gambale said. “We have no local control of GPS satellites and no viable back-up for them. This is a critical vulnerability, and a serious problem.”

If the GPS system fails – or is deliberately interrupted through an act of economic sabotage – critical infrastructure ranging from the telephone system to automated teller machines and other financial services, all the way through to the electricity grid, would be at risk of catastrophic failure. 

Mr Gambale is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Locata Corporation, a developer of location systems that complement the GPS system urban environments. He will present a keynote address at the CeBIT Global Conferences spatial@gov>® conference titled ‘An Inconvenient Truth – GPS is a ticking time-bomb’.

Now in its fourth year, spatial@gov is the largest spatial technology event in the region, to be held in Canberra over three days at the National Convention Centre from November 20-22. The event is expected to attract more than 500 spatial sector professionals.

spatial@gov is firmly established as one of the most important events on the Australia ICT industry calendar. In 2012, it is being held in conjunction with the first face-to-face meeting of the Open Geospatial Consortium Forum for Australia and New Zealand. The OGC is a major international standards consortium of more than 465 companies, government agencies, research organisations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards.

Mr Gambale says although the GPS system is still considered “the Gold Standard” for positioning, the critical dependencies are now caused by myriad applications that were never envisaged when GPS was developed in the 1970’s.

“GPS at its core is not a system that is about finding nearby pizza restaurants. The amount of critical national infrastructure that now relies on GPS for its fundamental operation is staggering… and almost completely unknown to people outside the GPS industry,” he said. “The nation – and the world – has to have a system to back-up GPS – and the sooner the better”.

Also speaking at spatial@gov is US Air Force GPS specialist Chris Morin, from the 746 Test Squadron at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, who will address denial of service vulnerabilities in a presentation titled ‘Delivering the Truth in a GPS-Denied Environment’.

Other international speakers at spatial@gov include Mark Reichardt, President & Chief Executive Officer, Open Geospatial Consortium, and. Dr Paul Smits from the Institute for Environment and Sustainability at the Joint Research Centre for Digital Earth and Reference Data Unit of the European Commission

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson – whose portfolio includes the Australian Government’s recently established Office of Spatial Policy – will also provide to the welcoming address at spatial@gov, along with New Zealand Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson.