Global Navigation Satellite Systems

Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) such as the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia's GLONASS, the European Union's Galileo and China's COMPASS (also known as Beidou), provide important positioning, navigation and timing information to military, civilian and commercial users around the world.

Canadians benefit significantly from the use of GNSS, which enable emergency services to respond more quickly, allow transportation services employing air and marine vehicles to travel their routes more safely and provide precise synchronization to the operation of computer networks, wireless communications systems, financial systems and electric power grids.

Disruption of GNSS signals can result in communications degradation, transportation disruption and power failures and can, consequently, have significant adverse effects on human safety and the Canadian economy. GNSS signal disruption can occur because of problems with signal generation (e.g., GNSS system failure) or, more frequently, signal transmission disruption due to solar storms, unintentional interference and signal jamming. Jamming is a serious threat to GNSS signals which, by their nature, are weak due to their long journey through space. Recently, the possibility to spoof GNSS signals by transmitting a fake signal to mimic the GNSS satellite signal and fool the GNSS receiver, has become a concern.

Recognizing the importance of GNSS and its vulnerabilities, Public Safety Canada's Assistant Deputy Ministers' Emergency Management Committee (ADM EMC) established the Federal Global Navigation Satellite Systems Coordination Board (FGCB) in September 2011. The objectives of the FGCB are to collaborate, share information and expertise, provide advice and act as a central point of contact for the coordination of federal GNSS issues.

The FGCB is comprised of federal departments and agencies with an interest in GNSS. Members include Industry Canada, the Canadian Space Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Public Safety Canada, the Department of National Defence and Transport Canada.

There are various working groups under the FGCB to deal with issues such as: detection, reporting and mitigation of interference with GNSS; coordination of approaches to Canadian GNSS infrastructure investment, evolution and renewal; and assessment of opportunities offered by future GNSS systems.

Industry Canada hosts the Canadian GNSS Coordination Office (GCO) which provides support for the day-to-day operations of the FGCB and represents the FGCB on GNSS matters within the government and the private sector, and with representatives of foreign governments and international organizations. The GCO supports the FGCB in carrying out its assigned responsibilities and functions and meeting its objectives.

For further information on the FGCB, the GCO and their activities, please contact Jina.MacEachern@ic.gc.ca.

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