Realising the benefits of precise positioning: Case Studies

Precise positioning technology offers an exciting opportunity for all Australians. The ability to identify a location anywhere in Australia with a real-time accuracy of three centimetres enables a range of activities to be conducted more efficiently, from growing crops to constructing roads and navigating transport networks. The industries that have been early adopters have already realised the benefits of their investment — economically, environmentally and socially.

Widespread access to precise positioning technology is estimated to boost the national economy by between $7.8 and $13.72 billion1 by 2020. Geoscience Australia is playing an important role in fostering the uptake and ongoing development of this technology through the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability.

This program will establish the necessary infrastructure on the ground that provides the foundation for the technology.

The National Positioning Infrastructure Capability will ensure all Australians have an opportunity to access continuous, reliable and precise positioning information.

To better understand these benefits and how this technology is currently being used in Australia, read the five case studies. They provide a snapshot of the new and innovative uses that will continue to arise as the technology continues to evolve and more industries get involved.

[1] ACIL Allen Consulting, 2013, The value of augmented GNSS in Australia., Accessed 24 August 2015.

...Increases returns

The mining industry has been an early adopter in the use of precise positioning technology. Positioning plays a role in all activities along the production chain, from site surveying to extracting deposits, boosting the industry's productivity and profitability along the way.

...Saves time

Precise positioning technology allows drilling equipment to extract resources in exact locations in accordance with mine plans and identified mineral deposits. It also allows mining operators to safely identify the location of trucks at any point in time, what they are carrying and where it is being deposited.

...Benefits the environment

Precise positioning information enables site surveying to be conducted with a high level of accuracy, ensuring areas of environmental or cultural significance are safeguarded.

...Reduces costs

Accurate information is vital for the construction sector. Precise positioning technology was embraced quickly for site surveying, machine guidance and asset management activities as every small increase in accuracy translates easily into cost savings.

...Saves time

Precise positioning technology allows site surveying to be better integrated with building activities and ensures earth moving equipment is guided precisely to plan. Operational efficiencies have a significant impact on reducing project timelines.

...Benefits the community

Greater site control has important social benefits. Construction sites can be made safer through continuous tracking of personnel and equipment. Completing projects on time means less disruption to public access roads and footpaths.

...Improves yield

Grain and cotton growers have readily adopted precise positioning technology for controlled traffic farming and interrow sowing activities. It enables tractors to be accurately guided along designated wheel tracks, maximising the cropping area and, as a result, improving yields.

...Reduces waste

Accurate guiding of machinery allows seeds to be sown precisely between rows, meaning inputs such as water, fertiliser and herbicide can be applied directly over the crop with less wastage. This negates the need to clear crop stubble from previous harvests, bringing additional cost savings to the farmer.

...Benefits the environment

Precise application of inputs has important environmental benefits. There is less risk of chemicals entering waterways and degrading water quality. Following the same wheel tracks means there is less damage to the soil.

...Saves time and money

Uptake of precise positioning technology in the road transport sector has significantly increased in recent years to address the growing challenges of congestion, accessibility and rising fuel prices. Managing and optimising route selection ensures that road freight arrives on time and with greater fuel efficiency — both of which translate into significant cost savings.

...Helps make roads safer

Driver safety is of paramount importance in the road transport sector. Precise positioning enables the vehicle's location to be identified with greater accuracy and certainty to better manage driver fatigue and transport mobility. These benefits extend to other modes of transport, including increased safety and efficiency across air, rail and maritime networks.

...Can improve community safety

Precise positioning on a national scale will enable emergency services staff to coordinate rescue efforts with minimal delay. The location of fire trucks and ambulances for example can be accurately monitored and guided to emergency situations along the most efficient and safest route.

...Can support driverless cars

Driverless cars will no longer be in the realm of science fiction when reliable, widespread and accurate positioning information becomes available. It will enable the development of advanced navigation services that keep cars on the correct side of the road and ensure they follow the designated route and can detect nearby vehicles.

...Can inspire new smartphone applications

In an expanding market for location-based applications on smartphones and other devices, access to more accurate and reliable positioning information will stimulate new and innovative uses of positioning information — many of which are yet to be imagined. Importantly, these technologies will be useable anytime and anywhere throughout Australia.