Position, Navigation and Timing for Security

  • Jean-Christophe MartinEmail author
Living reference work entry


Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) allow users to compute their position, velocity, and time anywhere in the world, anytime, and with a high accuracy. The best known and most popular GNSS is the US Global Positioning System (GPS), far in front of the Russian GLONASS system. However, due to the stnrategic importance of the GNSS, other powerful nations are developing their own global systems (GNSS): the European Union’s (EU) Galileo and China’s BeiDou, also known as KOMPASS.

Galileo may reach the FOC (full operational constellation) with 30 satellites (24 operational and 6 spare) in middle orbit in 2020/2021. BeiDou, the Chinese constellation, may also reach its FOC with five geosynchronous and 27 satellites in middle orbit at the same moment. It means that each citizen on the Earth may be able to use the four constellations (GPS, Galileo, BeiDou, GLONASS), given that they have the proper receiver and chip. The combined capacity of the four constellations makes around 120 satellites around the Earth, and at least 15 satellites in view of each user begin in 2021. This makes a tremendous benefit and creates a multitude of opportunities for many applications and in particular for some secured applications, such as certain secured IoT (Internet of Things) or timing applications.

GNSS mainly offers two types of services: an open service, available to anyone, and an authorized service, providing better performance and available only to authorized users. The authorized services already support the defense military operations of the USA and Russia, while the open services have become instrumental for security in general and for civil security operations of any state supporting, for instance, police and civil protection. The fact that there is an opened service (OS) does not mean that secured applications cannot be developed relying on open services. The fact that a user can develop applications relying on four constellations (GPS, Galileo, BeiDou, and GLONASS) gives a huge number of applications for authentication, for example (applications on which the user is sure that he is using the right signals).

Galileo (and also the three other constellations) offers a specific service k called “Public Regulated Service” (PRS). Its “spectrum of applications” is broader than defense only but is “security” in a larger way. Each member state of the European Union, with the proper security organization, can use the PRS for its secured applications (police, special services, civil security, customs, etc.). This chapter addresses in particular these aspects, the use of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for security applications.



Frederic Bastide from the European Commission has contributed to the previous version of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEO Marency SASParis & BruxellesFrance

Section editors and affiliations

  • Maarten Adriaensen
    • 1
  1. 1.European Space AgencyParisFrance

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