Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN)

The Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) is a joint initiative of the Australia and New Zealand Governments to provide Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) services for Australia and New Zealand. Geoscience Australia as the Australian Government lead agency and working in collaboration with Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand will be responsible for the development, deployment, and operation of SouthPAN, the first SBAS in the Southern Hemisphere.

SouthPAN is a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) comprised of reference stations, telecommunications infrastructure, computing centres, signal generators, and satellites that provide improved positioning and navigation services in Australia, New Zealand, and its maritime region.

Precise positioning from SouthPAN will offer accuracy at the 10 centimetre level: a significant improvement on previous accuracy of 5 to 10 metres. SouthPAN provides augmented and corrected satellite navigation signals directly from the satellite rather than through a mobile phone. This allows 10 centimetre level accuracy to be available everywhere, overcoming gaps in mobile, internet and radio communications. For example, this will provide improved accuracy in our regional and remote areas, as well as in our maritime zones.

Between 2017 and 2019, SouthPAN’s precise positioning technology, known as the Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) test-bed project ran to assess the economic, social and environmental benefits of improved positioning technology through industry case study projects.

In February 2020, Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand officially began their joint collaboration on SouthPAN under the Australia New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement (ANZSRICA). The system is designed to meet global performance requirements under Australia and New Zealand’s unique service area and space weather conditions.

Following a comprehensive procurement process, in September 2022 Geoscience Australia entered into a contract with Lockheed Martin Australia to deliver an ongoing SBAS service to Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian Government’s intention is to provide early Open Services from the SouthPAN satellite-based augmentation system this year, with a safety-of-life certified SBAS system six years later.

Geoscience Australia is currently seeking expressions of interest (EOI) for SouthPAN ground station site hosts.

How to get access

Many positioning-capable consumer devices already have SouthPAN-ready receivers. Geoscience Australia through FrontierSI will provide technical expertise, liaison with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), universities, industry and government to ensure users can benefit from SouthPAN’s precise positioning.

GNSS equipment manufacturers, applications developers, and end-users should use the SouthPAN Service Definition Document and Disclaimer to implement the early Open Services from SouthPAN on their devices.

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Benefits of SouthPAN

SouthPAN’s Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) test-bed project assessed the economic, social and environmental benefits of improved positioning technology through 27 demonstrator user case study projects across ten different industry sectors. This included projects across agriculture, aviation, construction, consumer, resources, road, rail, maritime, mining and utilities. You can view how the SouthPAN user case study test-bed projects will make an impact to Australian society and industry. Following the test-bed, EY produced an independent economic benefits analysis of the program. This analysis found that accurate and reliable SBAS positioning has an expected value of $7.6 billion over 30 years for Australia and New Zealand, based on the tested applications of the program. This analysis found that accurate and reliable SBAS positioning has an expected value of $7.6 billion over 30 years for Australia and New Zealand, based on the tested applications.

About SouthPAN

The Australian Government will contribute $1.4 billion to the SouthPAN project over the next 20 years. The purpose of the program is to deliver a national capability that accelerates the adoption and development of location-based technology and applications.

SouthPAN will see Australia and New Zealand join countries such as the United States, Europe, Russia, India and Japan, which have all invested in capabilities that deliver satellite-based corrections via an SBAS. It will also support the aviation, maritime and road transport sectors in meeting requirements for high-integrity positioning-guaranteed performance with sub-metre level accuracy.

How it works

SouthPAN will operate through the deployment of a series of ground stations monitoring signals broadcast by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) satellites and will compare the station’s known location with the position data from the satellites.

The GNSS signal data and measurement information will then transmit to a central processing facility. This facility will produce error corrections and status information about the GNSS satellites as a series of messages. These messages will be sent to an uplink station, which will transmit the data to a geostationary satellite. This data will then re-broadcast as an augmentation of the GNSS satellites to all precise positioning users.