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What is GPS jamming, and how to spot it in your workforce

A secret network of twenty roadside listening stations across the UK has confirmed that criminals are attempting to jam GPS signals on a regular basis, findings from a conference at the National Physical Laboratory revealed yesterday.


Set up by the government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the Sentinel project is identifying several instances of jamming each day on busy roads, in fact somewhere between 50 and 450 occurrences across the UK. The research established that ‘jammers’ were responsible for interference experienced by Ordnance Survey equipment.

How does this relate to the UK workforce? Jamming seems to happen for two reasons – firstly, criminal activity; and secondly, the report revealed that domestic jammers are typically used by drivers or operatives with company cars or vans that do not want their employers to know their whereabouts.

Although the use and sale of GPS jammers is illegal, it is not illegal to buy them. The internet sells jammers shipped from the Far East for as little as £40. So if you want to avoid being tracked by GPS, it’s not difficult to get hold of this type of technology.

So from a service management perspective how do you identify instances of operative jamming?

If a company has performance management systems in place which enable them to analyse job completions, operative locations and activity and journey durations then they can start to look for patterns. So on any given day a random selection of operatives might have, typically short-lived, GPS problems at a point in time. What the company needs to look for is repeat patterns – so which operatives are out of coverage the most, and when and where they are out of coverage. If those areas aren’t problem areas for other drivers, or are typically good signal areas, this is a pretty good place to start looking.

Once again, as with most technologies invented to benefit the majority, loopholes will be discovered by the very small minority. The answer is in establishing processes and spot-checks to ensure a business as usual approach, and that service managers have maximum visibility.

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