For the first time, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) played host to the ninth meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) in Prague. The event was held 10 – 14 November.
The ICG meeting is a unique opportunity for GNSS providers to present a status update and future plans for their systems, and an opportunity for ICG members, associate members and observers to provide updates on recent developments pertaining to services and applications. Among providers present were representatives from GPS (USA), GLONASS (Russia), BeiDou (China), IRNSS/GAGAN (India), QZSS (Japan) and the European Union’s Galileo.
“Significant progress continues to be made through the ICG to support sustainable development throughout the world,” said United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Director Simonetta Di Pippo. “The efforts to build capacity in space science and technology are considered a major focus of UNOOSA and provide a major springboard for the transfer and enhancement of skills and knowledge to nations that wish to engage in GNSS science, technology and education.”
“The GSA is honoured to be able to host this important global event,” said GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides. “Bringing together the world’s GNSS community, with representatives from all the leading global and regional programs, is crucial to improving the compatibility and interoperability needed to build a multi-constellation program capable of benefiting the end users.”
The UN-established ICG is charged with promoting voluntary cooperation on matters of mutual interest related to civil satellite-based positioning, navigation, timing and value-added services. The organization falls under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
A Secure Foundation for Galileo
The ICG provides a unique opportunity for representatives from the world’s leading global and regional GNSS programs to give an update on their systems and services. Presenting in Prague was US GPS Coordination Office Director, Harold Martin; Russian Federation Centre for PNT Head of Information and Analysis, Sergey Karutin (GLONASS); China Satellite Navigation Office Director, Chengqi Ran (BeiDou); Indian Space Research Organization Centre, Alak Bankik (IRNSS/GAGAN); Japanese Office of National Space Policy Senior Coordinator, Akihiro Matsumoto (QZSS); and European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry Head of Unit of Galileo and EGNOS Applications, Security and International Cooperation, Christian Siebert.
According to Siebert, with a stable seven year perspective, substantial budget and exploitation-focused governance scheme, the Galileo program has a secure foundation for the future. “The Galileo program has achieved numerous important milestones this year,” he said. “For instance, the ground infrastructure deployment was finalized for initial operations, the new satellite design qualified and the Galileo in Orbit phase successfully concluded.” He also noted that the deployment plan for the Galileo constellation has been secured, with 26 satellites ordered and launcher service contracts signed.
Also Read: Galileo Service Provision Delegated to the European GNSS Agency
Looking towards 2015, Siebert said next steps include a gradual introduction of the early phase of service delivery, which will rely heavily on interaction with users: “The long-term service plan will be aligned with the trend of most user communities moving towards service levels based on a multi-constellation approach,” he concluded.
As the purpose of the ICG is to promote cooperation between the world’s GNSS programs, here are some highlights from the other presentations:
“Our objective is to work with other GNSS providers to ensure compatibility. By achieving interoperability we will provide the end user with better capabilities and help ensure a level playing field within the global marketplace." - Harold Martin, Director, National Coordination Office, United States
“Russia is involved in bilateral cooperation with international authorities, including the European Union, with the aim of making GLONASS one of the essential elements of the international GNSS infrastructure providing user benefits worldwide." - Sergey Karutin, Head of Information and Analysis Centre for PNT, Russian Federation
“We have a policy of encouraging compatibility and interoperability with other GNSS programs and are committed to enhancing application efficiency, broadening application domains and promoting international applications" - Chengqi Ran, Director, China Satellite Navigation Office, China
“QZSS will contribute to the welfare of the Asia-Pacific region by offering a broad range of security applications, including the improvement of the capacity to respond to natural disasters." - Akihiro Matsumoto, Senior Coordinator, Office of National Space Policy, Cabinet Office, Japan
Of course any talk of interoperability and international cooperation becomes null if it isn’t backed by user-focused GNSS applications.
Speaking on the GNSS application market and opportunities, GSA Head of Market Development Gian Gherardo Calini noted that by 2022 the GNSS device market will be worth over EUR 7 billion, and that this growth is expected to occur across all regions. “This forecast for growth offers substantial business opportunities for the global GNSS industry,” he said.
According to Calini, there are several important drivers behind this growth, including:
- Increasing penetration of GNSS devices in different platforms and devices
- More devices per person and penetration within emerging markets
- More intensive use of GNSS devices
- Disruptive new applications coming on to the market
- Integration of GNSS with other technology and sensors
“In the mass market, we see a growing diversity and volume of mobile applications,” said Calini. “This is particularly true in the integration of GNSS into devices that have traditionally been unrelated to location, such as cameras and watches.”
He also noted drivers within the regulated market, including in rail, maritime and aviation. “In rail, GNSS is becoming a standard feature in non-safety applications such as passenger information,” he said. “While in aviation there is an increasing usage of GNSS navigation, particularly for PBN.”
Also Read: European Rail, Supported by European GNSS
In the high precision market, a noted increase in the use of precision agriculture is also being seen. This is happening most prominently in developed countries and on large farms – mostly related to crop production.
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