​New Zealand joins Australia to develop precise satellite positioning

By on 22 February, 2017

Te Waipounamu (the South Island of New Zealand) as seen from The International Space Station.


Ministers from Australia and New Zealand have this week announced an agreement for the two nations to combine forces to develop precise satellite positioning in the Australasian region.

In January it was announced that the Australian Government will invest $12 million in a two-year program looking into the future of positioning technology in Australia. Now, the New Zealand government will now be contributing a further AU$2m to the cause and working on the project to test instant, accurate and reliable positioning technology. Three global technology companies, GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed Martin, have also been reported to be collaborating closely on the project.

As part of Australia’s National Positioning Infrastructure (NPI), the project will study and test a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) and precise point positioning (PPP) for instant, accurate and reliable positioning technology that could provide future safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits across many industries.

The project will involve Geoscience Australia and the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) working closely with a number of New Zealand organisations, including Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the New Zealand Transport Agency, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Ministry of Transport.

An SBAS will overcome the current gaps in our mobile and radio communications and, when combined with on-ground operational infrastructure and services, will ensure that accurate positioning information can be received anytime and anywhere within Australia. Image: Geoscience Australia

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said he welcomed New Zealand contributing an additional $2 million to the $12 million in project funding announced by the Australian Government in January 2017.

“The two-year project will test SBAS technology that has the potential to improve positioning accuracy in the region to less than five centimetres. Currently, positioning in Australasia is usually accurate to five to ten metres.

“Not only do we use positioning technology everyday through apps like Google Maps but it is essential to all four transport sectors – aviation, maritime, rail, and road.

“Improving positioning technology has the potential to open up a whole range of new opportunities for transport sectors, including building on technological developments in maritime navigation and automated train management systems to a future that includes driverless and connected cars.”

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said research had shown that the wide-spread adoption of improved positioning technology has the potential to generate upwards of $73 billion of value to Australia by 2030.

“This technology has potential uses in a range of sectors, including agriculture and mining, which have always played an important role in our economy, and will also be at the heart of future growth in Northern Australia,” Senator Canavan said.

From March 2017, Geoscience Australia with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) will call for organisations from a number of industries including agriculture, aviation, construction, mining, maritime, rail, road, spatial, and utilities to participate in the test-bed.

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