Whilst I have been compiling the copy for this issue, the phone hacking scandal has been unfolding and it has been fascinating to see all those who only a few weeks ago were desperate to court favour with the News International executives now scattering in panic to distance themselves from Murdoch and Brooks as their house of cards collapses! You can rest reassured that your editor isn’t a suspect in the phone hacking scandal so The Pilot magazine isn’t in danger of being closed down as the investigators’ net reaches deeper into the murky depths of 21st Century journalism!

One factor of these scandals, which hasn’t been explored by the mainstream media, is how totally vulnerable phone and computer systems are to hacking and how fragile the technological infrastructure underpinning our daily existence is. This quarter’s feature examines the effects of  GPS failure on ECDIS which confirms the need for an independent back-up system.

E- Loran is a system which, by building on existing proven technology, can provide a cheap and effective back-up system. To their credit the UK Government have committed resources to e-LORAN and  the UK’s General Lighthouse Authorities (GLA’s) have been at the forefront of perfecting the technology. The EU are also supporting e-LOLAN and there is now good coverage around the coasts of Europe and in the Mediterranean. Russia and parts of the Far East also have some coverage. However, the USA have decided against supporting it and during the last couple of years have shut down their LORAN stations and are dismantling them to save $20m per year! Without the US, comprehensive world coverage will be unachievable so e-LORAN faces an uncertain future.

The USA’s solution? A smart phone “app” that citizens will be required to download and keep running which will pinpoint any GPS jammers and automatically send the information to the authorities. Such an “app” can’t provide position back-up in the affected area and could easily be confused by multiple mobile jamming units. And, don’t smart phones themselves rely on GPS?

JCB : john@pilotmag.co.uk


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