Understand Positioning Australia

Positioning 101

Our position on the globe is essential to everyday life. Position 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. This brings increased productivity, improved community safety and boosted innovation. The reported economic benefits of these technologies have the potential to generate upward of $73 billion of value to Australia by 2030.

Global navigation satellite systems

To determine position, velocity and time we rely on global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology. Australia is one of few countries in the world with high visibility to four GNSS and two regional navigation satellite systems due to our geographical location. 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

We’re working to ensure that accurate positioning information is widely available to the community through the Positioning Australia program. This is being delivered through two complementary projects: a national network of ground station infrastructure known as the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability (NPIC) and a system to deliver corrected positioning signals directly to you via satellite technology through an Australian Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS). Together, these will provide more reliable positioning information, allowing for innovation and efficiency across a range of scenarios such as agriculture, transport, emergency management, mining, engineering and logistics.

Current technology typically allows for positioning within 5-10 metre accuracy, but through this program, accuracy will be improved to within three centimetres in areas with mobile phone coverage and ten centimetres everywhere else. This will deliver accurate, reliable and instantaneous positioning across Australia and its maritime zones.

A national positioning network

To maximise the value of GNSS, we’re establishing the necessary ground infrastructure to track, verify and optimise data for precise positioning across Australia. We’re building new ground stations and integrating existing stations so multiple GNSS signals can be received. To verify and correct the positioning signals for users, we’ll also establish a GNSS data analytics capability. This will ensure industry has access to software tools for positioning.

Coordination across government and industry is vital to maximise value from current and future positioning investment. The program will develop a national network through coordination of current infrastructure already installed across Australia by private industry, deferral, state, territory and local governments. This will reduce coverage gaps in regional and remote communities and avoid unnecessary duplication. Investing strategically in the location and capability of ground infrastructure will reduce national barriers to accurate and reliable positioning and create opportunities for business.

Enhancing positioning coverage

A Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) overcomes current gaps in mobile and radio communications and, when combined with our national infrastructure network, ensures that accurate positioning information can be received. SBAS augments and corrects GNSS signals to improve the accuracy of positioning data and makes it available across Australia and its maritime zones without the need for mobile phone or internet coverage.

This will see Australia and New Zealand join countries such as the United States, Europe, Russia, India and Japan, which have all invested in capability that delivers 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 metre level accuracy.

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