Improved emergency and rescue services
Global Navigation Satellite Systems such as Galileo allow users worldwide to pinpoint their locations or the locations of other people or objects at any given moment.
A simple concept, perhaps, but the range of possible uses for this sort of capability is enormous, spanning many domains, both public and private. Numerous potential applications have already been identified, based on the quality and reliability of Galileo signals, but the list is certain to grow, limited only by the imaginations of innovative entrepreneurs and service providers.
- The integration of accurate positioning signal receivers within mobile telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), mp3 players, portable computers, cameras and video devices, will bring Galileo services directly to individuals, making possible a fundamental transformation of the way we live and work.
- Location Based Services (LBS), identified as the main initial market for Galileo, include a broad range of applications such as ‘Mobile Yellow Pages' or ‘Proximity Services', providing users, wherever they are, with information and advertising about nearby businesses and services.
- Dedicated positioning devices will be available for tourists or hikers, for amusement park and museum visitors, and people within large shopping centres.
Emergency, security and humanitarian services
- Galileo-ready devices will enable new security-related applications, permitting the location of stolen property, for example, or lost pets or individuals.
- Galileo signals facilitate civil protection operations in harsh environments, speed up rescue operations for people in distress, and provide tools for coastguards and border control authorities.
- Galileo's Search and Rescue (SAR) function is linked to the operational Cospas-Sarsat system, wherein satellites are equipped with transponders that can transfer distress signals from user transmitters to a rescue coordination centre.
Science, environment, weather
- Galileo services will be used to carry out scientific research in meteorology and geology, in the filed of geodesy, to track pollutants, dangerous goods and icebergs, to map the oceans, study tides, currents and sea levels.
- Galileo will allow improved monitoring of the atmosphere, of water vapour for weather forecasting and climate studies, and the ionosphere for radio communications, space science and earthquake prediction. It will also help to better understand the movements of populations of wild animals.
- The scientific community will benefit from high-accuracy Galileo timing signals (see below), allowing precise adherence to international time standards and calibration of atomic clocks.
- Satellite navigation can increase traffic safety and efficiency by improving the way we use vehicles. Highly accurate and reliable Galileo signals will serve fleet management, enabling the delivery of detailed maps or voice notifications to locate specific shipments and containers in road transport. It will deliver similar benefits in aviation, maritime and rail transport, and even for pedestrian traffic.
- By integrating Galileo signals with other technologies, the agriculture community can benefit from improved monitoring of the distribution and dilution of chemicals, improved parcel yield thanks to customised treatment and more efficient property management.
- The fishing industry will see more effective information exchange between vessels and stations and improved navigation aids for fishermen.
- Accuracy and reliability are absolute requirements in civil engineering. Combined with digital mapping, Galileo offers a powerful tool for decreasing cost and increasing productivity while maintaining the highest construction standards, from the planning of structures to the maintenance and surveillance of existing infrastructure.
A crucial time reference function
Galileo satellites are synchronised to an extraordinary level of accuracy with the widely used Universal Time Coordinate (UTC) time scale. Thus, Galileo is capable of delivering a critical timing signal useful in many areas of application.
- Wireless telecommunication networks will use this timing signal for network management, for time tagging and for synchronisation of frequency references.
Finance, banking, insurance
- Galileo's extremely accurate clock makes it formidable instrument for authentication and ‘time stamping' of financial transactions. In today's information society, security, data integrity, authenticity and confidentiality have emerged as major issues in the exchange of electronic documents and computer files. Certified time stamps are necessary for applications such as electronic banking, e-commerce, stock transactions, quality assurance systems and services. Galileo will play a key role in the protection of such information, using the latest authentication techniques.
- Accurate location systems are indispensable in the design, construction and operation of modern energy networks. Power grids must be continuously monitored, and when a power line breaks or a failure occurs, it is vital that monitoring instruments are synchronised with maximum accuracy. The high-quality of time synchronisation represented by Galileo will mean better services for energy transport and distribution.
- Similarly, in the oil and gas sector, marine seismic exploration will increasingly profit from Galileo services to seismic acquisition vessels and seismic streamer arrays and gun arrays. High-resolution surveys of new sites and identification of any geomorphologic or geophysical risks will also increase the safety of drilling activities.
As already stated, the list of possible applications is still to be completed and the full potential for user services and devices unknown. It will be noted that GPS-based services already exist in many of the areas mentioned above. The key point is that Galileo will increase the levels of accuracy and reliability, making possible a new range of more beneficial and commercially profitable products and services.