About Positioning Australia

Last updated:7 June 2023

Our position on the globe is essential to everyday life. Positioning allows us to locate ourselves in the world and get to where we want to go. Satellite positioning technologies have enabled the precise navigation and positioning we rely on at the touch of a button, from smartphones to autonomous vehicles. Geoscience Australia is bringing the benefits of space-based technology down to earth, through our precise positioning capability. Our vision is to help Australia prosper by fostering a world-leading positioning capability accessible to all Australians. By leading and coordinating a thriving, competitive Australian positioning capability, we unlock the potential for technological improvements in industries to deliver accelerated economic growth, create entrepreneurial opportunities, increase environmental and societal benefits, and improve community safety. A 2008 report showed that these technologies have the potential to generate upwards of $73 billion of cumulative value to Australia by 2030.

Global navigation satellite systems

To determine position, velocity and time we rely on global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology. Due to our geographic location, Australia is one of a few countries in the world with high visibility to four global and two regional navigation satellite systems. These include 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 and can be used by land, sea and airborne users in all weather conditions, anywhere and anytime.

Improving our positioning capability

Geoscience Australia is working to ensure that accurate positioning information is widely available to the community through the Positioning Australia program. This new capability is being delivered through complementary projects:

  • The Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN), provides augmented and corrected satellite navigation signals directly from satellites based on Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) technology. SouthPAN offers as little as 10 centimetre level accuracy across Australia, New Zealand and its maritime zones, overcoming gaps in mobile, internet and radio communications.
  • The National Positioning Infrastructure Capability (NPIC) provides an openly accessible platform that supports Australian businesses and their customers in accessing data and products needed to achieve accurate and reliable positioning solutions. This is being achieved through the coordination and establishment of a national network of positioning infrastructure that will enable 3 to 5 centimetre accurate positioning in areas of internet and mobile phone coverage.
  • Ginan is an open-source software providing GNSS analysis that delivers real-time precise point positioning correction services. Ginan is a key component of NPIC and enables the increase of positioning accuracy to 3 to 5 centimetres (from 5 to 10 metres) across Australia.

Background to the program

Positioning Australia is delivering accurate, reliable and instant positioning capability for all Australians. This program is bringing the benefits of space-based technology down to Earth.

This means that we’ll have improved positioning information from an accuracy of 5 to 10 metres, down to 3 to 5 centimetres in areas with mobile phone or internet coverage and will offer accuracy at 10 centimetres everywhere else on land and sea without the need for mobile phone or internet coverage.

Advances in positioning technology are changing the way we engage with the world around us. With information available at the touch of a button, we access precise navigation from GPS through our smartphones, and accurate positioning information means driverless cars can stay on the correct side of the road and follow the designated route.

Precise positioning is already delivering economic benefits and improved community safety across all industries. Open, accessible and accurate data is vital for the next wave of innovation. Positioning Australia’s open data is supporting these transformational technologies delivered by Australian industry that benefit our economy, community and society.

Our data streams are available through the Geoscience Australia Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Data Centre. These streams enable positioning with an accuracy of 3 to 5 centimetres in most regions of Australia with mobile phone coverage.

SouthPAN can be accessed similar to how users have access to GNSS positioning signals. SouthPAN provides positioning to users through direct signals from space to users who have a compatible GNSS chip which has the latest firmware/software to allow your device to utilise the SouthPAN signals. We are working towards an available service to access the precise positioning over the internet.