The National Standards Authority of Ireland's National Metrology Laboratory (NSAI NML) has announced the roll-out of Ireland’s first National Timing Grid (NTG).

The new system will allow for near real-time tracking of clock stability against other atomic clocks to provide early warnings in case of timing drift.

The grid will help to mitigate against the growing dangers of jamming or spoofing of GPS systems and will provide redundancy in case of clock failure.

Launching the new timing system, the NSAI said that time and timing distribution have become increasingly important for critical infrastructure sectors, such as communications, energy, transportation, public services, financial services, and cloud data centres.

The authority said that as Ireland's digital economy continues to grow and more services are moved online, the importance of accurate timing in Ireland’s networks is paramount.

The new timing grid is being delivered with specialist partners Data Edge and Timing Solutions.

'Robust timing infrastructure'

David Fleming, National Standards Authority of Ireland, Technical Manager for Time, said the system is very important for the likes of power companies to have an accurate atomic clock.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, he said: "We are underpinning a network of atomic clocks around the country to provide a robust timing infrastructure for the country."

He said the international time scale is based on an atomic clock and it defines what one second is.

Mr Fleming said it is very important when it comes to the likes of utility companies.

"Some of our partners are people who have signed up to the national timing grid.

"It's there so we can track in real time, the stability and accuracy of their atomic clocks.

"So, it allows us to give them a pre-warning if there is performance degradation. It means the clocks underpinning their own systems are directly tracible to the clock in our laboratory here in the National Metrology Laboratory.

"And then it just means that we can monitor them and notify them in case of any failure detections etc."

Mr Fleming said there can be drift but the drift in these clocks can be something like one second in something like two hundred million years.

"But at a granular level in terms of nanoseconds, it is very important for the likes of power companies etc, to have a very accurate atomic clock behind the scenes essentially simply running all their systems."

He said everything needs to be in sync because we are so reliant on technology and timing is one of those fundamental issues that allows everything to run in harmony.