A Y2K Apocalypse Might Strike At Your GPS System Next Month

March 11, 2019

© Sirinarth Mekvorawuth | Dreamstime

Hard to believe it was twenty year ago when we were planning for the worse as the year 2000 loomed. A simple computer coding omission of the first two number of the year meant everything from electrical grids to banking machines were in jeopardy of failing.  Though we learned our lesson then? Not a chance.  Now older GPS systems are at risk of failing because of computer coding omission similar to Y2K is about to reset them to zero. Believe it or not GPS systems use the date to calculate your position. When it was created it used a timestamp system that counts weeks using a 10-digit field that tops out at 1024 weeks, which means every 19 years and seven months the clocks reset to zero and that is what can render some GPS system useless.  The next reset date is April 6, 2019. A recent memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) explained that a nanosecond error in GPS Time can equate to one foot of position ranging error. The bad news is that already occurred.  On August 21, 1999, GPS clocks were reset to zero and although it did cause some problems, not many people had GPS systems then. Today we rely on it quite heavily and therefore the risk is greater.  The good news is that since 2010, GPS manufacturers has been making system with a thirteen digit date counter, called IS-GPS-200 standards, which means it will rollover once every 157 years. Basically if you use the GPS your smartphone, you’re probably all up to date. If you utilize older GPS systems that do not meet IS-GPS-200 standards, DHS recommends you contact the manufacturer with questions.

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SOURCE: Gizmodo

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