Ireland gets a National Timing Grid to prevent GPS spoofing

19 Sep 2023

From left: Data Edge CEO Paul Phelan, NSAI technical manager for time David Fleming and Timing Solutions founder Zdenek Chaloupka. Image: John Ohle/Paul Sherwood Photography

The NSAI said this new grid will provide early warnings of timing drift, and keep the time accurate for critical infrastructure.

Ireland has launched its first National Timing Grid, in a bid to create a more robust timing infrastructure for the digital economy.

This initiative aims to interlink independent atomic clocks across Ireland for real-time tracking. These clocks are designed to measure time with more accuracy than conventional clocks.

The National Timing Grid will include six caesium atomic clocks from large telecommunications companies based in Ireland, which are linked by GPS satellites. There are currently four atomic clocks connected, according to the grid’s website.

The real-time tracking will be used to measure the stability of one atomic clock against the others to provide “early warnings in case of performance degradation”, also known as timing drift.

This grid also has a security purpose, as it will be used to protecting Ireland from GPS jamming and spoofing, which is when GPS signals are blocked or interfered with.

This grid was announced today by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and its National Metrology Laboratory. The development of the grid was also supported by Irish companies Timing Solutions and Data Edge.

The NSAI said this initiative is important for the growth of the digital economy, as accurate timing is important for critical infrastructure such as communications and financial services. The launch of this grid has also given Ireland a recognised official timescale known as UTC (NSAI),

“Keeping Ireland’s networks on time is crucial in supporting its day-to-day operations as more and more of our services are moved online,” said NSAI technical manager for time David Fleming.

“We are keen to support Irish businesses in any way that we can and this time has been made freely available for use by any organisation that could benefit from utilising time directly traceable to UTC (NSAI).”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic