aerosols, appliances, Atomic clocks, budget cuts, Celestial navigation, China, climate change, clocks, communications, critical services, crucial infrastructure, environment, Europe, event programmer, financial services, FSB, GAO, Germany, GPS, health care, hybrid warfare, impact study, Impacts of closing NIST radio stations, industry, IT, lights, manufacturing, Marine storm warnings, morse code, Music, NIST, NWS, Planning, pollution, power stations, radio, radio-navigation system, Russia, Schools, smart switches, solar activity, solar flares, Synchronization, Synchronizing clocks, telecommunications, Timers, traffic, traffic lights, traffic synchronization, transportation, tuning, tuning instruments, UK, unknowns, UTC, utilities, Valve synchronization, wastewater systems, WWV, WWVB, WWVH
Contact Members of Congress, asap, and ask for funding for WWVB, WWV, and WWVH to be restored to the NIST (Commerce) 2019 budget, at least until an impact study can be done.
If your member is not worth bothering with, contact another one that you trust. If you can’t decide, start with US Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. For the House, the Ranking Member for Homeland Security, Bennie Thompson, is worth contacting. http://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative https://www.senate.gov/reference/common/faq/How_to_correspond_senators.htm
And, yes, WWVB is being shutdown, along with WWV and WWVH, unless restored to budget.
There are a range of unknowns as to what the impacts are of cutting off WWVB, WWV, and WWVH radio stations-signals, especially for crucial infrastructure/critical services. But, unlike for the year 2000 computer-internet problem, there has apparently been no study, no planning, no notification. It’s not even clear if the cuts will start as soon as the budget is passed, or later. The impacts will not be immediately apparent to most, but only gradually so.
The size of the country, and variation in infrastructure and appliance types and age, means that the impacts will be difficult, and perhaps almost impossible, to evaluate, but apparently no one has even tried.
Shutting off WWVB will impact the clocks and watches of tens of millions of people, but the other impacts remain largely unknown. Those dependent upon WWVB for time will fall gradually out of sync.
How many traffic lights, timers related to power plants, valves, etc., are dependent upon WWVB and will gradually fall out of sync over a period of months after the signal is turned off? What are the repercussions? This could pass unnoticed until too late.
What is the cost of replacing items large and small, which are dependent upon the WWVB time signal? A study of the impacts needs to be done before the service is cut off.
Commenters online have compared it to the unknowns associated with the change from 1999 to 2000 on computers. That was widely noticed and addressed, but this is passing mostly unnoticed.
In the runup to 2000, “Special committees were set up by governments to monitor remedial work and contingency planning, particularly by crucial infrastructures such as telecommunications, utilities and the like, to ensure that the most critical services had fixed their own problems and were prepared for problems with others… Some warnings of what would happen if nothing was done were particularly dire:
The Y2K problem is the electronic equivalent of the El Niño and there will be nasty surprises around the globe. — John Hamre, United States Deputy Secretary of Defense…” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2000_problem
While, financial services are apparently now connected to the NIST Atomic clock via internet, the radio version would still provide an additional backup. It is also possible that the internet service may be cut.
For an idea of some types of important things which might be effected, see:
Don Sullivan explained to VOA that: “it is an important backup to GPS in case adversaries attempt to interfere with the satellite radio-navigation system.” (See VOA Article below).
The NIST radio signals can also be used in navigation.
A White House petition states: “Additionally, these stations transmit marine storm warnings from the National Weather Service, GPS satellite health reports, and specific information concerning current solar activity, and radio propagation conditions. These broadcasts are an essential resource to the worldwide communications industry.”
The US 2019 “budget document acknowledges that in addition to synchronizing clocks and watches, the time signals are also used in appliances, cameras and irrigation controllers.” (VOA news)
After a few months, it may have the sometimes merely irritating, and sometimes important, effect of making many people late everywhere.
As explained by “Old Redneck” at Daily Kos: “do you have one of those “atomic watches” or an “atomic clock” that automatically sets itself? These devices use the WWV signal to set themselves. No WWV, your atomic watch or clock do not work./ Are you a sailor planning on a long-distance sail? You’ll need the WWV signal to calibrate your Rolex for celestial navigation. Scientists — remember them? — use the WWV signals to determine ionospheric Doppler shift./ For nine days in June 2012, GPS time signals were not dependable because of a solar radiation flare. Agencies and users who had grown dependent on GPS time signals suddenly found themselves digging out old shortwave radios to receive the WWV signal. The US military still maintains old-fashioned shortwave radios that operate AM, single-sideband, and Morse code . . . just in case….” Read more here: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/9/17/1796554/-Shutting-down-WWV-WWVH-and-WWVB (Emphasis our own.)
The so-called atomic clocks are not based on ionizing radiation, but rather on the behavior of stable cesium 133 atoms: “at large critical communication nodes (e.g., mobile wireless and wireline-switching centers, satellite control centers), atomic clocks are often deployed to backup GPS… According to Department of the Treasury officials, the financial services sector primarily relies on atomic clocks to time-stamp financial transactions; GPS is used as a secondary timing source in the communications protocols of these transactions.” (GAO). The military is developing a portable radioactive atomic clock, however.
“According to [a 2013] presidential directive, there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors that are so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health, or safety. The 16 sectors include chemical; commercial facilities; communications; critical manufacturing; dams; defense industrial base; emergency services; energy; financial services; food and agriculture; government facilities; healthcare and public health; information technology; nuclear reactors, materials, and waste; transportation systems; and water and wastewater systems. White House, Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-21 (Feb. 12, 2013)“. https://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658792.pdf
White House petition (Note that WWVB is included in cuts, though not mentioned in the petition)
“WE THE PEOPLE ASK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO TAKE OR EXPLAIN A POSITION ON AN ISSUE OR POLICY:
Maintain funding for NIST stations WWV & WWVH
Created by T.K. on August 16, 2018
NIST station WWV and sister stations are among the oldest radio stations in the United States, having been in continuous operation since May 1920. The station has transmitted the official US Time for nearly 100 years, and is an instrumental part in the telecommunications field, ranging from broadcasting to scientific research and education. Additionally, these stations transmit marine storm warnings from the National Weather Service, GPS satellite health reports, and specific information concerning current solar activity, and radio propagation conditions. These broadcasts are an essential resource to the worldwide communications industry. This petition requests continued funding of these stations be maintained into the 21st century and beyond to ensure future operations.” https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/maintain-funding-nist-stations-wwv-wwvh
The petition is closed but dealing with Trump is a waste of time. The US Congress can keep it funded.
“Time May Be Running Out for Millions of Clocks
Last Updated: September 02, 2018 11:38 AM, by Steve Herman
WHITE HOUSE —
President Donald Trump’s administration wants to shut down U.S. government radio stations that announce official time, a service in operation since World War II.
WWV and WWVB in the state of Colorado and WWVH on the island of Kauai in the mid-Pacific state of Hawaii, send out signals that allow millions of clocks and watches to be set either manually or automatically.
WWVB continuously broadcasts digital time codes, using very long electromagnetic waves at a frequency of 60 kilohertz, which are automatically received by timekeeping devices in North America, keeping them accurate to a fraction of a second.
“If you shut down these stations, you turn off all those clocks,” said Don Sullivan, who managed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) stations between 1994 and 2005.
GPS not good enough
Some argue the terrestrial time signal have been rendered obsolete by the government’s Global Positioning System, whose satellites also transmit time signals, but users disagree, noting GPS devices must have an unobstructed view of a number of satellites in space to properly function.
“Sixty kilohertz permeates in a way GPS can’t,” Sullivan told VOA, explaining that WWVB’s very low frequency signal can be received inside buildings and it is an important backup to GPS in case adversaries attempt to interfere with the satellite radio-navigation system.
A cesium “atomic clock” at WWV in Colorado. One second is defined as the period of the transition between two energy levels of the ground state of the Cesium-133 atom, making cesium oscillators the primary standard for time and frequency measurements.
WWV and WWVH broadcast on a number of shortwave frequencies, meaning their signals can be received globally.
The Trump administration proposes, in its Fiscal 2019 budget to Congress, cutting $26.6 million and 136 jobs from NIST’s fundamental measurements, quantum science and measurement dissemination activities.
The budget document acknowledges that in addition to synchronizing clocks and watches, the time signals are also used in appliances, cameras and irrigation controllers.
“It’s crazy,” Sullivan said of the proposed cut. “It’s absolutely insane.”
NIST officials say they cannot comment on budget matters. The White House referred questions about NIST’s funding to the Office of Management and Budget, which has not responded to an inquiry from VOA.
Oldest continuously operating radio station
WWV, the oldest continuously operating radio station in the United States, first went on the air from Washington in 1919, conducting propagation experiments and playing music. In the early years, it also transmitted — via Morse code — news reports prepared by the Agriculture Department.
The station subsequently was moved to Maryland and then to Colorado in 1966. WWV has been a frequency standard since 1922 and has disseminated official U.S. time since 1944.
All of the NIST stations rely on extremely precise atomic clocks for the accuracy of their time signals.
WWV, at two minutes past every hour, also transmits a 440 hertz note (A above middle C), something it has done since 1936, allowing musicians to tune their pianos and other instruments.
All three stations retain a huge following worldwide, according to Sullivan.
WWV and WWVH broadcasts can also be heard by telephone and about 2,000 calls are received daily, according to NIST. (To listen to the broadcasts by phone, dial +1-303-499-7111 for WWV and +1-808-335-4363 for WWVH.)
The telephone time-of-day service also is used to synchronize clocks and watches, and for the calibration of stopwatches and timers (although slightly less accurate than radio reception).
Tom Kelly, an amateur radio operator in the state of Oregon, has launched a petition to try to save the stations. His goal is to collect 100,000 online signatures from U.S. residents by September 15 that would compel a response from the White House.
Kelly’s petition calls the stations “an instrumental part in the telecommunications field, ranging from broadcasting to scientific research and education,” noting their transmissions of marine storm warnings, GPS satellite health reports and specific information about solar activity and radio propagation conditions.
Britain, China, Germany, Japan and Russia also have very low frequency time transmissions, but their stations are too distant to automatically set clocks in the United States.
Among other proposed cuts for NIST are its environmental measurement projects measuring the impact of aerosols on pollution and climate change and gas reference materials used by industry to reduce costs of complying with regulations and the Urban Dome research grants for determining how to measure greenhouse gas emissions for cities and across regions.” https://www.voanews.com/a/time-may-be-running-out-for-millions-of-clocks/4554376.html
According to GAO: “examples of strategies to mitigate GPS disruptions for aspects of sector operations, as follows: Communications. The communications sector, which uses GPS to synchronize timing of communications and for location-based services, employs a range of strategies to mitigate GPS disruptions. For example, at large critical communication nodes (e.g., mobile wireless and wireline-switching centers, satellite control centers), atomic clocks are often deployed to backup GPS…. Financial services. According to Department of the Treasury officials, the financial services sector primarily relies on atomic clocks to time-stamp financial transactions; GPS is used as a secondary timing source in the communications protocols of these transactions. In the event of a GPS disruption, Treasury officials noted that the financial services sector has a risk management process in place, which includes hardware, software, and operational procedures to detect and mitigate any disruptions in communications…” Excerpt from: “GPS DISRUPTIONS: Efforts to Assess Risks to Critical Infrastructure and Coordinate Agency Actions Should Be Enhanced” https://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658792.pdf There probably needs to be more funding, not less.
Another example of something which Trump did to undermine safety, proving that impeachment should have been started immediately: On February 2, 2017, the Trump administration lifted sanctions which blocked the Russian FSB from getting the latest Information Technology (IT) products/ updates. Access to updates, etc., due to the lifting of sanctions facilitates Russian hacking of the US and Europe. The Trump administration seems to be effectively inviting Russia’s security services (FSB) to do more hacking. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/3-trump-policies-which-facilitate-future-tampering-with-us-elections-by-russia/