Positioning for the Future

Budget 2018-19

As part of Budget 2018-19, the Australian Government has invested over $260 million in Geoscience Australia's capabilities to develop satellite technology that will have economic, safety and convenience benefits for all Australians. Through the Geoscience Australia CEO Budget Statement, read how this funding will result in programs that support Australian industries, provide access to data, create jobs in regions across Australia and increase industry competitiveness.

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.

Improvements in precision navigation 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 plays a coordinating role across government to ensure that accurate positioning information is widely available to the community into the future. Key to meeting Australia's current and future positioning needs is investment in the network of ground stations that form the backbone of our National Positioning Infrastructure (NPI) Capability, and the modernisation of Australia's geodetic datum: the coordinate system and set of reference points used to represent specific locations on the Earth's surface.

The NPI Capability will take advantage of Australia's geographical location as one of few countries in the world with high visibility to six Global Navigation Satellite Systems (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.

Working together, these systems typically allow positioning to within 5-10 metre accuracy, but with the support from local ground infrastructure, accuracy is improved to better than 5 centimetres. 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.

Implementation of the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability

National coordination across government and industry is vital to maximising value from current and future positioning investment. There are productivity benefits to be gained from greater precision and building upon the hundreds, possibly thousands of ground stations that have been installed across Australia by private industry, federal, state, territory and local governments. Development of a national network through coordination of current infrastructure along with investment in new infrastructure would reduce coverage gaps in regional and remote communities and avoid unnecessary duplication.

The NPI Capability led by Geoscience Australia aims to maximise this value to the nation, ensuring any user can rely on positioning with accuracy and confidence. The agency's leadership in technical and policy coordination aims to improve consistency in service standards and strengthen investment in fundamental infrastructure, technology and systems connected to the NPI Capability.

The vision is to deliver instant, reliable and accurate access to positioning and timing information anytime and anywhere across Australia.

The NPI Capability proposes to establish the necessary ground infrastructure to enable data from global networks of satellites to be tracked, verified and optimised for precise positioning across Australia.

This would ensure that accurate positioning information can be received by the user directly via satellites, anytime and anywhere within Australia. Successful implementation would secure the competitive advantages available to Australia, enabling national access to fundamental precise positioning information by government, industry and leading research communities across 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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