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Save the date: GPS Week Number Rollover Event – April 6th 2019

If your networks or systems use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), April 6th 2019 is probably a date worth marking in advance.

On, or possibly after, this date, some GPS receivers may start to behave strangely.  The data they output may jump backwards in time, resulting in month and year timestamps that are potentially up to 20 years out of date.

This is a known issue; in April 2018 the Department of Homeland Security in the United States issued a memo to make GPS users aware of the situation.  Any changes, adjustments, or other actions are ultimately the responsibility of the user, so DHS strongly recommends owners and operators of critical infrastructure to prepare for the rollover.

This refers to the GPS Week Rollover on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) derived from GPS devices.

How does the lack of GPS signal in an underground bus station affect real time information displays?

GPS repeater system in bus terminals ensure that timetable systems are up-to-date at all times

Background:

A GPS repeater in underground transport stations ensure real time data is up to dateIn these fast-moving, highly-connected times, bus customers expect accurate real time information at their fingertips.  For example, the Citymapper App helps to get you around London with ease ……….

Modern passenger busses carry GPS satellite navigation systems to give their exact location at all times.

The on-board system transmits its location data to a central computer. In turn, the computer communicates the information to passengers via an array of interfaces.

Six years and one thousand GPS repeater systems later …

In early 2012, a friend suggested that I investigate the possibility of bringing GPS repeater systems to market in the UK.

Well, the truth is that my investigations were somewhat half-hearted since I just didn’t “get it”.

I could see how the technology worked but I couldn’t fathom what anyone would want a GPS repeater for.

So maybe I’m not the sharpest implement in the toolbox after all …..

Automotive research facility benefits from GPS, DAB radio and FM radio signal repeater system

To enable development and testing of infotainment systems, FalTech has designed and installed a multi-function repeater system inside a research facility which previously was an RF-denied zone.

Background:

Vehicle infotainment consoleIn-Vehicle Infotainment (IVE) and In-Car Entertainment (ICE) systems are integral to most vehicles these days. In this connected world, the minimum expected level of equipment in a new car includes FM/DAB radio and GPS satellite navigation systems.

Not to mention video players, in-car internet and WiFi, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and eCall technology.

One automotive company that FalTech GPS worked with was having a problem with a lack of GPS, FM and DAB signals inside their research building due to the blocking effect of the largely steel structure. The situation caused frustration and delays as the only way to test any of these systems was to take the prototype vehicles outside in order to receive a usable signal.

FalTech GPS attends British APCO annual conference 20 & 21 March 2018

Link to the BAPCO 2018 Exhibition & Conference page

For the fifth year running, FalTech GPS will be exhibiting at the BAPCO annual exhibition and conference in Coventry on 20 & 21 March 2018.

As BAPCO members, we will be there at Stand C20 with our equipment supplier, Roger-GPS, the market-leading manufacturer of GPS repeater systems based in Helsinki, Finland.

So what is our link with BAPCO?

Well, since 2012, FalTech has supplied and installed over 300 GPS repeater systems in fire and police stations across the UK.

Our fire and police services, like most others across the globe, are affected by some specific challenges caused by the lack of GPS signal inside their buildings.

GPS repeaters in fire stations

When inside a fire station, the mobile data terminal (MDT) installed on most appliances will not receive a GPS signal due to the blocking effect of the building structure.

This means that when the MDT transmits its location to the command and control centre, the data is stale and indicates the location when the appliance last had sky-view – just before it entered the fire station.

However, the real problems begin when the appliance leaves the station because it can take several minutes
for the MDT (and satnav devices if present) to re-acquire a GPS fix.

The appliance could be quite some distance away from the fire station before the GPS fix occurs.

This has two main effects:

  1. Fire crews have to find their way to the incident without the aid of the MDT or the satnav device
  2. The command and control centre continues to see the appliance’s location as the fire station long after it left the building

Local knowledge can sometimes aid fire crews to get where they need to be.  However the command centre staff won’t necessarily have the confidence of knowing exactly where their resources are at all times, which means that they are not always able to marshal resources to where they are most needed.

The solution

A GPS repeater system installed in a fire station ensures that MDTs and satnav devices receive live satellite signals at all times.

GPS repeater in a fire station providing continuous signal to MDT and satnav devices

Which means that:

  • The MDT reports accurate, up-to-date location information at all times.
  • Satnav devices maintain a GPS fix while indoors.
  • There is no satellite acquisition delay on exiting the station.
  • Response times minimised and public safety enhanced.

There is a full description of how a GPS repeater works in a fire station here.


GPS repeaters in police stations

The issues faced by police officers are similar in nature to those seen by firefighters; when they go indoors and their personal radios stop receiving a live GPS signal they continue to transmit stale location data.

When exiting the police station the officer may get into a vehicle and head off to an incident before the radio has a chance to acquire GPS lock.

As far as the command and control centre is concerned, the officer’s location appears on the status screens as back at the station, when in fact he or she could be several miles away.

It doesn’t help that the officer and the radio is in a steel box (police car) and the GPS acquisition delay is prolonged.

A GPS repeater system installed in a police station ensures that personal radios receive live satellite signals at all times.

police_radio_on_uniform
Which means that:

  • The personal radio device reports accurate, up-to-date location information at all times.
  • There is no satellite acquisition delay on exiting the station.
  • All officers visible at the command centre whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Response times minimised and public safety enhanced.

 

There is a full description of how a GPS repeater system works in a police station here.

If you are at the BAPCO centre at the Ricoh Arena on 20th & 21st March please do come along and speak with us, we’d be happy to tell you about how we have solved this problem for fire and police services across the UK and further afield.

In fact, you may be interested to see a case study of the largest known repeater system installed in an underground police garage.


If you are attending and would like to meet up, by all means call Phil Whitting on +44 (0) 1326 336 444 or email him and he would be happy to see you.  He may even buy you a coffee!