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GSA stresses key role of GNSS at Intergeo workshop

GSA Market Development Innovation Officer Eduard Escalona speaks at the Intergeo Galileo workshop. (Photo: GSA)

GSA Market Development Innovation Officer Eduard Escalona speaks at the Intergeo Galileo workshop. (Photo: GSA)

News from the European GNSS Agency (GSA)

Galileo and EGNOS were the focus of attention at a special workshop at this year’s Intergeo in Stuttgart, which took place in September. Intergeo is the world’s leading conference and trade fair for geodesy, geo-information and land management.

Intergeo provided an opportunity to give an update on the status of the Galileo and EGNOS programs and to present user case studies at a special workshop focusing on the geomatics market.

In his presentation at the conference, Eduard Escalona, Market Development Innovation Officer at the European GNSS Agency (GSA), stressed the key role of GNSS.

“GNSS is a cornerstone in many areas: It is a fundamental element for cadastral surveying, in the construction sector, in mining, land surveying and mapping activities, for all geographic information systems (GIS), for infrastructure monitoring and for marine surveying. For all of you who are working in these and many other areas, Galileo is now helping to provide the GNSS services you need,” he said.

Dual-frequency boosts market

The European GNSS programs, Galileo and EGNOS, continue to move forward in terms of adoption by the professional market and among general users, thanks in no small part to the development of dual-frequency capability.

Traditionally, mobile, location-based applications have been powered by single-frequency GNSS receivers operating under stringent battery-power and footprint constraints. With a dual-frequency chipset, these devices now benefit from better accuracy, ionosphere error cancellation, improved tracking and better multipath resistance.

Galileo is leading the way in the area of dual-frequency signal delivery, now with more dual-frequency operational satellites in orbit than any other GNSS system. Market uptake of Galileo receivers has been impressive; in addition to the geomatics-related areas of particular interest to the Intergeo public, dual-frequency GNSS chipsets are also appearing in the automotive sector, where connected cars and autonomous vehicles present a clear and pressing need for accurate and reliable positioning information.

New services to come

“To date, more than one billion Galileo-enabled devices have been sold,” said Escalona, “but Galileo isn’t standing still, waiting. We are proposing new services to appear in the coming years.”

These include the much-anticipated High-Accuracy Service (HAS) and a new Authentication Service. “The HAS will be a free, globally available service providing an accuracy of 20 cm, with PPP [Precise Point Positioning] corrections,” Escalona said.

Meanwhile, the Authentication Service (OS-NMA) will provide protection against jamming, spoofing and meaconing on the E1B signal and a separate Signal Authentication Service (SAS) will provide an even higher level of protection on the E6 signal.

“EGNOS is currently working with GPS, but of course we are looking forward to augmenting Galileo in the near future,” said Sergio Cabrera Bona, EGNOS Service Adoption Tools Engineer at the European Satellite Services Provider, whose core activities comprise EGNOS operations and service provision.

“GNSS is critical in all of these fields, whether it is mapping and GIS, farming, forestry, thermal pictures, management of natural terrains,” Cabrera said. He listed other areas, including management and inspection of utilities, power networks, water supply, telecoms, drones, inventory, surveying, field campaigns and determination of perimeters in agriculture as areas where GNSS plays a key role.

“It is not possible to mention all of the activities where you need reliable positioning. What you have to know is that with EGNOS augmentations you already have a horizontal accuracy below one metre and a vertical accuracy below two metres, so this is a very good accuracy,” he said.

There is much more that could potentially be done right now, Cabrera explained. “Most of the professional equipment is already EGNOS-enabled, but in practice users do not always configure their equipment correctly to exploit this capability. EGNOS adoption and support is going ahead full speed, but in the GNSS device market, many users still do not know they can use EGNOS. So the education process remains an ongoing effort,” he said.

Cabrera explained that the EGNOS user support website can be an important part of this educational drive on the top of the help desk. “We have very interesting tools and resources available online. For example, we will have a new EGNOS usability map available very soon on the website. With this tool you will be able to easily see the current availability of EGNOS signals in your location, which will be very useful especially in urban environments, for example. We also have many user support services and there is a new mobile app coming, so please visit our website and take advantage of EGNOS. It is there for you.”

Introducing the GSC

Galileo services improvement expert Pedro Gómez Martínez informed participants about the European GNSS Service Centre (GSC), defining both the concept of operations as well as the procedures necessary to provide the services that the GSA offers to Galileo users.

“The European GNSS Service Centre is the single interface between the infrastructure and users of the Galileo open services, commercial service and search and rescue service (SAR),” said Gómez. “So the GSC is a center that provides experts, know-how, evaluation of capability, distribution of information and support for the provision of value-added services provided by the Galileo system.”

The GSC website is a core resource for Galileo users, Gómez said, reporting real-time system status and incident notifications, with a bank of key documents and a full-time help desk. “It is very important for us that this is a two-way interactive service that includes your feedback. We need you to report any incidents that you might experience related to the product, service and data provision. We are very interested in user satisfaction, and we want to know how you respond to improvements. And of course, in general, we are here to promote GNSS in all its forms, in all areas, for all users.”

The GSC launched a new version of its website in the run-up to the InterGEO event. “More than ever we are making it easier for you to engage in dialogue with us and to provide your feedback. This is very important to us with new services coming up in the future,” Gomez said.

Research fundamentals

“One of the very important responsibilities of the GSA is the management of a number of EGNSS research and development programmes,” said Eduard Escalona. “We have Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research Framework Programme. There we have a final call for proposals coming up in November, with a deadline in March 2020. The GSA also is overseeing the Fundamental Elements programme, which is funding research specifically targeted at developing Galileo-enabled chipsets, receivers and related technologies.”

To illustrate Escalona’s point, the presentations featured EU-funded GNSS-related research projects leveraging the accuracy and integrity offered by Galileo. Pere Molina of Geonumerics presented the MapKite project. Funded under Horizon 2020 and now completed, MapKite integrates an unmanned aerial system (UAS) and a mobile mapping aystem (MMS) for simultaneous capture of geo-data from the air and from the ground. Molina showed data from a successful corridor mapping exercise run using the MapKite system.

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