Technologies that rely on Atomic Clocks (Part 2)

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GPS is not the only technology that is dependent on atomic clocks. The high levels of accuracy that are supplied by atomic clocks are used in other crucial technologies that we take for granted everyday.

Air traffic Control Not only are all aeroplanes and airliners now equipped with GPS to enable pilots and ground staff to know their exact location but atomic clocks are also used by air traffic controllers who need precise and accurate measurements and time between planes.

Traffic Lights and Road Congestion Systems – Traffic lights are another system that relies on atomic clock timing. Accuracy and synchronization is vital for traffic light systems as small errors in synchronization could lead to fatal accidents.

Congestion cameras and other systems such as parking metres also use atomic clocks as a basis of their timekeeping as this prevents any legal issues when issuing penalty notices.

CCTV – Closed circuit television is another large scale user of atomic clocks. CCTV cameras are often used in the fight against crime but as evidence they are ineffective in a court of law unless the timing information on the CCTV camera can be proved to be accurate. Failure to do so could lead to criminals escaping prosecution because despite the identification by the camera, proof that it was at the time and date of the offence can’t be clarified without accuracy and synchronization.

Internet – Many of the applications we now entrust to the internet are only made possible thanks to atomic clocks. Online trading, internet banking and even online auction houses all need accurate and synchronized time.

Imagine taking your savings from your bank account only finding that you can withdraw them again because another computer has a slower clock or imagine bidding on an internet auction site only to have your bid rejected by a bid that came before yours because it was made on a computer with a slower clock.

Using atomic clocks as a source for time is relatively straight forward for many technologies. Radio signals and even the GPS transmissions can be used as a source of atomic clock time and for computer systems, the protocol NTP (Network Time Protocol) will ensure any sized network will be synchronized perfectly together. Dedicated NTP time servers are used throughout the world in technologies and applications that require precise time.

IBM takes over London Congestion Charge with Galleon Time Servers

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Computer giants IBM have taken over the running of London’s congestion charge scheme this week and like their predecessors, Capita, they will be synchronizing the system with Galleon Systems time servers.

Essential for the running of the London congestion charge scheme and ensuring all the 400 cameras are synchronized to the exact same time, the blue-chip company have chosen Galleon Systems as their supplier of network time servers to control the congestion charging system.

Having supplied Capita the former controllers of the congestion charging scheme with its NTS network time servers to accurately synchronize the camera system, Galleon Systems are now supplying IBM with its mission critical hardware too.

Galleon Systems range of network time servers can synchronize networks with millisecond accuracy and receive an accurate and secure atomic clock time source from the GPS network (Global Positioning System) or the radio time signal broadcast by national physics laboratories like NPL.

The London congestion scheme may not be popular with many who have to pay the daily charge but the scheme has been recognised worldwide as an effective method of reducing city congestion and similar schemes to the London congestion zone are being implemented in cities across the globe.

Galleon Systems are the UK’s leading supplier of network time servers and NTP (Network Time Protocol) time synchronisation equipment, having been providing network timing solutions for over a decade.

Essentials of Traffic Management NTP Server

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There are now reportedly as many cars on the road as there are households and it only takes a brief journey during rush hour to realise that this claim is quite possibly true.

Congestion is a huge problem in our towns and cities and controlling this traffic and keeping it moving is one of the most essential aspects of reducing congestion. Safety is also a concern on our roads as the chances of all those vehicles travelling around without occasionally hitting each other is close to zero but the problem can be exemplified by poor traffic management.

When it comes to controlling the traffic flows of our cities there is no greater weapon than the humble traffic light. In some cities these devices are simple timed lights that stop traffic one way and allow it the other and vice versa.

However, the potential of how traffic lights can reduce congestion is now being realised and thanks to the millisecond synchronisation made possible with NTP servers is now drastically reducing congestion is some of the world’s major cities.

Rather than just simple timed segments of green, amber and red, traffic lights can respond to the needs of the road, allowing more cars through in one direction whilst reducing it in others. They can also be used in conjunction with each other allowing green light passageways for cars in main routes.

However, all this is only possible if the traffic lights system throughout the whole city is synchronised together and that can only be achieved with a NTP time server.

NTP (Network Time Protocol) is simply an algorithm that is widely used for the purposes of synchronisation. A NTP server will receive a time signal from a precise source (normally an atomic clock) and the NTP software then distributes it amongst all devices on a network (in this case the traffic lights).

The NTP server will continually check the time on each device and ensure it corresponds to the time signal, ensuring all devices (traffic lights) are perfectly synchronised together allowing the entire traffic light system to be managed as a single, flexible traffic management system rather than individual random lights.