GPS jammers are seeing increased usage in the UK according to the Sentinel Project, a study that registered over 60 vehicles with the illegal technology over a six month period in just one location.
It's thought that those using GPS jammers could be doing so to block tracking systems installed on the vehicles, suggesting that they might be stolen. However the technology can have far reaching implications as it could affect critical systems that rely on GPS.
The results of the study were unveiled at the GNSS Vulnerability 2012: Present Danger, Future Threats conference, where organiser Bob Cockshott (achem) described how the results were achieved. It wasn't particularly high tech though: they merely parked up with 20 roadside monitors on busy roads and tracked the results over six months.
The company behind the project, Chronos Technology said that it believed there was somewhere between 50 and 450 occurrences across the UK each day. That's quite a range, highlighting that there's a lot of speculation going on here.
From the research, and police seizure of one of the devices, the study concluded that most jammers had an effective area of around 200-300 metres. While there were no critical systems affected as of yet, the Sentinel Project did confirm that Ordnance Survey equipment could be impinged. It seems likely that GPS equipment used by nearby road users would also be impeded from operating properly.
The real danger hypothesised however is with more important GPS reliants being affected. Certain financial transactions and airport systems are dependent on the positioning technology so it's understandable why concerns are being felt.
Source: BBC News