Snapshot: S&T Working to Address GPS Vulnerabilities

The critical infrastructure sectors rely on accurate position, navigation and timing (PNT) to function. Currently, the global positioning system (GPS) is the primary source of distributed and accurate timing information. However, GPS’s space-based signals are low-power and unencrypted, making them susceptible to both intentional and unintentional disruption.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has dedicated a multi‑year program to address GPS vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, with a multi‑pronged approach to:

  • Conduct vulnerability and impact assessments;
  • Develop mitigations;
  • Explore complementary timing technologies; and
  • Engage with industry through outreach meetings and events.

Industry Outreach

Industry outreach is a key component of the PNT program’s strategy, and a major event S&T hosted was the 2018 GPS Equipment Testing for Critical Infrastructure (GET-CI). This annual event provides stakeholders an opportunity to test and evaluate equipment in a unique live‑sky GPS interference environment rarely available to the private sector. Stakeholders include critical infrastructure GPS equipment manufacturers and critical infrastructure owners and operators.

“Many major critical infrastructure GPS equipment manufacturers attended this year’s S&T GET-CI event,” said Sarah Mahmood, DHS S&T Program Manager. “This made it a key engagement opportunity for the PNT program to both discover and cultivate working relationships with industry, and is a critical component of the program’s strategy for transition.”

Available Technology

In addition to informing the public of the nation’s critical infrastructure challenges, S&T also develops cost‑effective mitigation technologies for GPS interference, such as the Total Horizon Nuller (THN) antenna, which was developed in conjunction with the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute. This antenna design is available to manufacturers through a no-cost license, and S&T has already transitioned the antenna to three companies for commercialization. The THN antenna is a specialized low‑cost “anti-jam” antenna for fixed infrastructure applications that mitigates ground-based sources of GPS interference. This low‑cost solution enables critical infrastructure owners and operators to deploy such antennas more widely within parts of their networks that require resilience measures, but were not critical enough to warrant significantly higher priced solutions.

“Some critical infrastructure operators have thousands of GPS antennas and receivers in their network. Widely deploying a $10,000 antenna is impractical. This is especially true for the wireless communications sector, which deploys cell sites everywhere. But a low-cost antenna could be deployed at sites within the networks that need it,” said Mahmood.

Looking to the future, the PNT program is engaging private industry to develop an “assured timing compliance framework” to strengthen the resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure. This framework will be a key part of the PNT program and aims to help different levels of smart and resilient receivers meet varying end-user needs in sectors, like banking and communications. Participation in this compliance framework will be voluntary, but industry-wide adoption of this framework will enable greater PNT resilience in critical infrastructure, like the nation’s electric grids, communication networks and financial institutions.

To learn more about GET-CI, the THN antenna or S&T’s work in the area of Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT), email GPS4Critical-Infrastructure@hq.dhs.gov.

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, November 29, 2018

Presentations and Awards. On Tuesday the week before Thanksgiving, I flew to Denver to speak at a FirstNet Association (FNA) event and on Wednesday I flew home. Then on Thursday, I started out on what became a two-day trek to New York City due to weather delays. When I finally arrived in NYC, it was late on Friday so I was only able to join the Radio Club of America (RCA) board of directors meeting for the last thirty minutes. This was my last board meeting and I regret I could not have been there for the entire meeting but stormy weather and flying don’t often go well together.

FirstNet Association (FNA). The presentation I gave for attendees who came to hear the latest about FirstNet focused on coverage and the PowerPoint slides can be found here. The first slide set the level of expectations versus today’s progress. It shows that at present we are in month twenty of the contract between AT&T and FirstNet the Authority and outlined RFP-stated FirstNet milestones that would have to be met for the bidder to be compliant and on-track for building the network. When the RFP was developed, conventional wisdom was that a bidder would win the contract and deploy Band 14 (20 MHz of spectrum) for public safety over a five-year period.

Instead, when AT&T was awarded the contract, it provided public safety with full access to all AT&T LTE spectrum along with a plan to add Band 14 to its sites. The slide for month twenty states that at the end of twenty-four months of contract, “Achievement of 60% of contractor’s proposed Band 14 coverage in non-rural areas” should be complete. While only 60-percent of non-rural areas are required to be covered by Band 14 now, the FirstNet (Built with AT&T) footprint is much broader. Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading

5G Auto Group Seeks 5.9 GHz Band Waiver

The 5G Automotive Association has filed a petition for a waiver to deploy cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology in a 20 megahertz channel in the 5.9 gigahertz band. The channel would be in the 5905-5925 MHz band of the 5850-5925 MHz band.

“As supported by the attached 5GAA test report, C-V2X represents a significant advancement in connected vehicle technology and is the first step towards leveraging 5G to increase road safety and to maximize the myriad other benefits of connected vehicles on America’s roads,” the petition said.

“Built upon earlier efforts to develop Intelligent Transportation System (‘ITS’) services and leveraging advancements in cellular technologies, first 4G and ultimately 5G, C-V2X is a modern, standards-based connected-vehicle communications technology,” the petition added. “C-V2X enables direct, peer-to-peer mode communications between vehicles themselves (‘V2V’), vehicles and vulnerable persons such as pedestrians and cyclists (‘V2P’), and vehicles and transportation infrastructure (‘V2I’), as well as communications between vehicles and mobile networks (“V2N”). These communications can help enable important improvements in safety, traffic efficiency, mobility, and energy efficiency on America’s roads.” Continue reading

Media Advisory: S&T Demonstrates Tech During a Hazmat Scenario

Houston, TX – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will host a demonstration of integrating emergency response technologies during a simulated HAZMAT scenario at the Port of Houston on December 5, 2018. The Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) – Harris County Operational Experimentation (OpEx) will involve coordinated response by Houston public safety agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, and others.

Over the last year, DHS S&T partnered with 13 Houston-area public safety agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the DHS Office of Emergency Communications to identify technical capabilities that could assist first responders at the scene of an emergency. Situational awareness, responder physiological and patient monitoring, personnel location tracking, and enhanced communications were identified as priority concerns. The OpEx will evaluate how DHS-developed, commercial, and existing first responder technologies integrate during an emergency to fill these gaps while using open standards.

WHO:         Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, Next Generation First Responder Program (NGFR)

WHAT:       Media availability and demonstration of the NGFR – Harris County OpEx

WHEN:      1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 5, 2018

WHERE:    1:00 p.m. – Remarks
Port Coordination Center (follow signs for Police Station)
Port of Houston
111 East Loop North
Houston, TX 77029

1:45 p.m. – Technology Demonstration
Sam Houston Tour Boat Pavilion
Port of Houston
7300 Clinton Drive
Houston, TX 77020

To attend the press availability and demonstration, credentialed media must RSVP to NGFR@hq.dhs.gov by Friday, November 30, 2018, to register and receive a media packet and additional information about photographs and recording at the Port of Houston. Media must also check in at either the Port Coordination Center or the Sam Houston Tour Boat Pavilion prior to the demonstration. Media attendees must be U.S. citizens.  

DHS S&T: Recognizing a Year in Critical Infrastructure Innovation

This November, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recognizes the importance of increasing the resilience of our most core societal functions in an ever-changing technological landscape.October was Cybersecurity Awareness month, and it leads us into this month’s critical infrastructure focus with good reason: cyber innovation is forever transforming how the 16 essential sectors of critical infrastructure are managed.

Commercial facilities, transportation, healthcare, financial services, nuclear reactors and government facilities, to mention a few, are all things the average citizen relies on to function each day. They are all susceptible to cyber attacks, and they still need the resilience to withstand other natural and manmade catastrophes.

Here are a few noteworthy S&T efforts that have directly impacted our nation’s critical infrastructure this year.

SAFETY Act – The S&T Office of SAFETY Act Implementation, responsible for approving anti-terrorism technologies for insurance coverage under the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, approved its 1000th technology this year. Thanks to the SAFETY Act, various sports facilities, malls and other commercial buildings can maintain state-of-the-art security systems, and citizens can enjoy walking about those facilities feeling protected.

Flood Sensors – Our Flood Apex program has continued to collaborate with communities around the country to ensure they can be prepared in the event of a storm surge. We have partnered with industry and local emergency managers to install flood sensors that alert first responder agencies of rising water levels and collect data, powering efforts to reduce future flood damage. Data from our sensors in Mecklenberg County, North Carolina, has served as the backbone for the Flood Information and Notification System, and this effort continues to expand to other regions. With such devastating hurricanes making their mark between 2017 and 2018, many communities will rely on better data to get them through these seasons.

Decision Support System for Water Infrastructure Security (DSS-WISE) – Also in the realm of flood-proofing, S&T has created a modeling and simulation tool for dam failure situations. DSS-WISE provides communities with a course of action in these events, simulating potential inundation zones, informing evacuation processes and repair strategies. This added preparation saves communities thousands of dollars in dam safety studies, and millions in damages. It also saves lives. Efforts to improve DSS-WISE have been underway through S&T’s partnership with the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering (NCCHE).

Cyber Risk Economics (CYRIE) – Through the CYRIE project, S&T coordinates high-level research and development efforts in cybersecurity. These involve modeling and evaluating different economic aspects of cyber threats to improve the cybersecurity posture of Homeland Security Enterprise partners. This year, S&T invested in a forecasting platform to update critical infrastructure owners on the latest cybersecurity tools available to them. CYRIE continues to help S&T and our collaborators deliver optimal cyber risk management incentives for public and private sector organizations. Recently, we released our Cyber Risk Economics Capability Gaps Research Strategy, which we hope will help close the gap between research and practice by apprising the research community of real-world cyber risk economics challenges, and, ultimately, inform evidence-based policy and actions by industry and government.

What we all need

Whether you live in the city or the country, near the beach or at the foot of a mountain, the nation’s critical infrastructure is the backbone of your community. A weakness in one sector could easily be a weakness in another. As cyber innovation continues to bridge these different sectors together into a holistic network, homeland security depends, more than ever, on our shared consideration of each one and how it factors into the big picture.

 

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, November 11, 2018

Critical LTE Communications Forum and More.  This week’s Advocate is late since I attended and took part in the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) Critical LTE Communications Forum. There were about 200 folks in attendance, all with a keen interest in broadband communications for public safety. The sessions were great for the most part but there were occasional topics where some speakers presented information or ideas that were simply wrong or conveyed advances as coming much faster than they actually will.

For some reason, neither FirstNet (Built by AT&T) nor the FirstNet Authority had any sponsorship or participation. However, there were FirstNet folks in the audience. This lack of FirstNet visibility allowed the first keynote by Verizon to contain comments that could have and should have been countered by FirstNet. These issues included sharing networks, how soon Verizon’s Mission-Critical Push-To-Talk (PTT) would come to its network, and then a plea for states to include a statement in their policy that would make it mandatory for full network interoperability.

Verizon’s take on Mission-Critical Push-To-Talk was that it would roll it out in 2019. Then, in the same sentence, stated this would soon be followed by off-network LTE or Proximity Services (ProSe). Neither of these statements is based on actual fact and later in the day during the PTT panel (see below), I finally heard that the first iteration of Mission-Critical PTT was nothing more than a first-generation product and it would be years before all the kinks had been worked out.
Read the Entire Post Here .

Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence

Fiber forward: FCC awards waiver for county broadband project Continue reading

Public Television and S&T Use Datacasting to Foil Simulated School Shooting

On October 24, 2018, a simulated school shooting incident was conducted at the Adams Central Community Schools in Grant County, Indiana. The exercise was sponsored by DHS S&T, in collaboration with the Indiana Integrated Public Safety Commission, Adams County Sheriff, Adams County Emergency Management Agency, Adams County School District, and public television station PBS39, which serves Adams County and is headquartered in Fort Wayne. Datacasting over PBS39 was used to share critical information from the simulated incident with first responders and public safety officials from multiple agencies.

The information included live video from multiple cameras, school blueprints and other information essential for responding to an actual school shooting threat. School administrators and teachers participated in the demonstration, but students were not on campus. https://apts.org/news/press-releases/public-television-datacasting-foils-simulated-school-shooting-in-adams-county-indiana