Legal time distribution system

The project aims at development a technology and the supporting hardware and software to disseminate, using galileo, legal time with certified means such as to satisfy all the provisions of law. To achieve it new technologies are proposed and will be developed.

In recent years information technologies have increased their presence and impact in the everyday life, transforming the way in which entities communicate with each other and businesses are conducted. In an inter-networked society, timing is the thread linking the various activities into a global framework of data and information communications. Transactions require time-tagging to insure the validity of the transaction and to insure a time-ordered flow of information where milliseconds are the time scale unites of importance. Time has evolved from a physical quantity to a matter of legal and financial importance, crossing the classical boundaries of physics and astronomy into the realm of everyday life, in applications as diverse as finance, traffic control, synchronous telecommunications networking and utilities - power generation and distribution. It is well known that the generation of a time scale is primarily carried on by institutions, known as National Metrological Institutes (NMIs), that are responsible for time scale generation and distribution at the national level. Time must be authenticated to avoid intentional or unintentional misunderstandings in processing financial transactions, and this necessity opened the way to a new service. The Time Stamping Authorities (TSA) started to provide trusted time, generally via the Internet, to financial users and banks. Every user of the service not only receives a precise time information, but the very same time information that all subscribing users receive at the same time. This "authenticated" time insures that every user stamps its transaction with an identical time stamp at the same instant of time. Authentication provides a tool to avoid fraudulent tampering of the time stamps associated to the transactions on their way through a network or the Internet. TSAs generally retrieve their time from servers via the NTP protocol and redistribute it to the users. The next step is the provision of a service to certify the source of time; in a sense, to legalise the time for the users. Authentication allows time not to be tampered in distribution, certification insures that the authenticated time reflects the official, legal time and that the source for the TSA is a legally approved entity. Our proposal of Legal Time Distribution System is based on the simultaneous application of three concepts: 1. The use of a local oscillator and clock at the user premises, to allow independent integration of a local time scale from a stable frequency source, adding autonomous local integrity to the legal time distribution; 2. The use of the CV (Common View) technique, based on Galileo/GPS signals, to transfer accurate time and compare the legal time scale with the user time scale; 3. The use of an Internet certified time dissemination, in the form of the NTP protocol, to validate the time transfer via the CV technique and provide direct time dissemination if the highest accuracy achievable with the CV technique is not required by a particular user. Operationally, the data gathered at the user premises and at the source of legal time (most likely the country's NMI) via CV measurements are: a) Transferred to the NMI and processed to compute timing systematic parameters (frequency drift, time and frequency offsets), and long-term stochastic characterisation of the remote clocks; b) The data will constitute a valuable database at the NMI premises for scientific and legal uses and c) Fed back to the users to allow control of the remote clocks by steering each clock to the legal time reference, as needed. This allows not only the users to keep their local clock synchronised to the legal time, and generate its local replica to suit their applications, but the NMI can monitor the users clocks and track their behaviour with respect to the legal time as established by the NMI: legal issues that may arise due to conflicting time tagging in transactions can be resolved at the NMI level independently of the two contestants.
Project ID: 
8 727
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
580 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Satellite Technology / Systems / Positioning / Communication
Market Area: 
Other services (not elsewhere classified)

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.