Positioning for the Future

World-leading positioning for Australia

In the 2018-19 Federal Budget the Australian Government announced an investment of $224.9 million towards developing a world-leading satellite positioning capability for Australia. More information can be found here.

Funding of $160.9 million supports the development of an Australian Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) while a further $64 million is dedicated to upgrading Australia's ground Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network through the National Positioning Infrastructure. This will improve coordination across government and the private sector, and ensure Australian industry has access to world-leading software tools for positioning.

Together these projects aim to build an integrated Australian positioning capability to accelerate the adoption and development of location-based technology and applications.

Why positioning is so important

Our position on the globe is essential to our everyday lives. Position allows us to locate ourselves in the world and to get to where we want to go. The advent of satellites, and more recently, global positioning technologies have enabled the precise navigation and positioning we rely on every day across Australia.

Global networks of satellites have revolutionised our ability to access positioning information at the touch of a button. From smartphones to autonomous vehicles, positioning technologies deliver increased productivity, help improve community safety and establish a platform for future innovations, such as driverless vehicles.

Further improvements in precision positioning through SBAS and NPI will enable innovation and efficiency across a range of scenarios: precision agriculture, transport, emergency management, mining, engineering and logistics. These technologies have the potential to generate upwards of $73 billion of value to Australia by 20301.

Improving the accuracy of positioning

Geoscience Australia is working to ensure that accurate positioning information is widely available to the community. Key to meeting Australia's current and future positioning needs is the network of ground stations that form the backbone of our NPI, the establishment of an Australian SBAS to deliver corrected position signals directly to the user via satellite technology.

Global navigation satellite technology enables land, sea and airborne users to determine their three dimensional position, velocity and time, twenty four hours a day in all weather conditions and anywhere in the world. Australia is taking advantage of our geographical location as one of few countries in the world with high visibility to six GNSS, including the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia's GLONASS, Japan's Quasi Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), the European Union's Galileo System, China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BeiDou) and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Each system contains multiple satellites.

These systems typically allow positioning to within 5-10 metre accuracy, but with the support from local ground infrastructure and SBAS, accuracy can be improved to within 3 centimetres in areas with mobile phone coverage and 10 centimetres everywhere else. Precise positioning at this level opens a range of new and innovative applications, including major productivity improvements for agriculture, mining, engineering, logistics, transportation and location-based services.

Figure 1. The cumulative distribution of global core revenue (value of GNSS chipsets) projected by the European GNSS Agency (GSA, 2015) for the period 2013 - 2023.

Figure 1. The cumulative distribution of global core revenue (value of GNSS chipsets) projected by the European GNSS Agency (GSA, 2015) for the period 2013 - 2023.

Additionally, the cumulative benefits of positioning technology to the agriculture, mining and construction sectors alone by 2030 are projected to range between $32 billion and $58 billion1.

National coordination

National coordination across government and industry is vital to maximising value from positioning investment. Geoscience Australia facilitates technical and policy coordination on a range of challenges, including data and service standards, spectrum management, GNSS capability development, multilateral cooperation and legal traceability of position. National leadership on Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) more broadly is supported by the following coordination committees:

  • The NPI Advisory Board was established to provide strategic guidance to Geoscience Australia on the design and implementation of a National Positioning Infrastructure (NPI), based on current and future positioning needs across Australia and New Zealand. The Advisory Board is chaired by Geoscience Australia, and members include expert representatives from government, industry and the research sector. The advice and guidance of the Advisory Board helped to inform Geoscience Australia's business case for an Australian NPI.

    Since the Australian Government's commitment of $224.9 million for a national satellite positioning capability in the 2018-19 Federal Budget, Geoscience Australia has commenced work to build the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability, and is considering the role the NPI Advisory Board will play in this new phase of the project. For regular updates on Geoscience Australia's Positioning program, subscribe to the Positioning Newsletter.

  • The Space Coordination Committee (SCC) established under Australia's Satellite Utilisation Policy is a forum for the Australian Government to coordinate and prioritise its involvement in civil space activities. The PNT Working Group chaired by Geoscience Australia is a permanent committee under the SCC, which coordinates and prioritises PNT issues of national significance, including GNSS spectrum management, multilateral coordination, NPI capability planning, Space-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) and critical infrastructure resilience.
  • The Space Cross-Sectoral Interest Group established under the Attorney-General's Department's Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) supports national risk planning for Australia's growing reliance on space-based assets such as GNSS. Geoscience Australia contributes PNT expertise alongside specialists from Australia's satellite communications and Earth Observations from Space (EOS) communities. Further information is available via the Attorney-General's Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN).
  • The Positioning, Navigation and Timing Working Group (PNT-WG)draws together Australian Government agencies involved in PNT to advise the Australian Government Space Coordination Committee on the status and future of civilian PNT activities in Australia.

Further information




[1] Allen Consulting Group, 2008, Report on the Economic Benefits of High Resolution Positioning Services,. Accessed 24 August 2015.

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