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Australia-NZ commit to develop SBAS by 2023

Australia and New Zealand are partnering to roll out satellite technology that will be able to pinpoint a location on Earth to within 10 centimeters, unlocking more than $7.5 billion in benefits for industries in both countries.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern committed jointly to implement a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS), to operate across Australia and New Zealand, at the Australia-New Zealand leaders’ meeting held Feb. 28.

The system will improve the accuracy of GPS and other positioning services from the current five to 10 meters to as little as 10 centimeters across Australia and New Zealand without the need for mobile or internet coverage.

The new project follows 18 months of successful trials that tested 27 projects across a range of industries. It will be delivered by Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand under the joint science research and innovation treaty.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the project, to be operating by 2023, will have significant benefits to a range of industry sectors including mining, agriculture and transport.

“We welcome New Zealand’s commitment to join Australia in rolling out this exciting new technology, which will deliver substantial economic benefits for both countries,” Minister Pitt said.

“An independent analysis by Ernst and Young (EY) has found improved positioning technology will deliver more than $6.2 billion in benefits for Australia, and more than $1.4 billion in benefits for New Zealand, over the next 30 years.

Image: Geoscience Australia

Image: Geoscience Australia

“Trial projects have also found the system can make our roads and rail systems much safer, and can improve the way farmers manage their land, crops and livestock. For the resources sector, the technology can track vehicles and improve site surveys to enable precise extraction of deposits.”

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the project will complement Australia’s other investments in space to drive economic growth and create new jobs.

“The Morrison Government is backing these types of technologies because of the positive impact they have on the lives of everyday Australians — from the discoveries that make life easier through to growing industries that create high-value jobs,” Minister Andrews said.

“Many industries stand to benefit from this technology. It could help improve safety and efficiency in aviation and shipping and will be crucial to the development of autonomous vehicles.

“This work also supports our government’s broader commitment to triple the size of the space sector to $12 billion and an extra 20,000 new jobs by 2030.”

More information about accurate satellite positioning is available on the Geoscience Australia website.

Satellite image from Digital Earth Australia, Geoscience Australia, Australian government.

Satellite image from Digital Earth Australia, Geoscience Australia, Australian government.

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