$160 million sounds like a lot of money for a government to spend, but compared with the economic benefits it will generate that’s a small – and very smart - investment.
The Governments of Australia and New Zealand plan to invest this sum to develop a joint Space Based Augmentation System (SBAS) - the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network.
Australians and New Zealanders rely on satellite and positioning technology every day in almost every aspect of their lives. From air traffic control to directions to the supermarket, more precise positioning technology makes businesses more productive and our lives safer. It also creates opportunities to explore and harness previously unknown technologies and developments.
The investment of both governments in creating the Network could unlock more than $7.6 billion in economic benefit over 30 years according to a 2019 report by EY and FrontierSI. This will be shared across every economic and social sector and create more globally competitive businesses. It will spark the next wave of technology and start-ups, generating economic benefit across both Australia and New Zealand.
The SBAS solution offered by Thales will deliver a sovereign, high-integrity, high-reliability positioning solution of metre-level accuracy for the aviation industry and decimetre (10 – 15cm) accuracy for other sectors like agriculture, construction, mining, freight, and, critically, defence and national security.
For example, Europe’s SBAS system has become an integral part of smart, connected and integrated farm management solutions and a key driver for precision farming across the whole crop cycle.
The Network required for Australia and New Zealand will deliver a number of different types of signals that will enable ‘Safety of Life’ and Precise Point Positioning applications.
The Safety of Life applications are the hardest to achieve, and will require formal certification by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in order for AirServices Australia and its equivalent, Airways New Zealand, to utilise the services for aviation applications.
SBAS systems aren’t unique, WAAS the US system already exists; and the European system (EGNOS) has been in operation since 2011, without a single second of down time. And a number of other countries are in the process of establishing their own systems. Now is the right time for Australia and New Zealand to establish this capability, leveraging previously developed systems to de-risk the Network’s delivery.
The Southern Positioning Augmentation Network is more than a project, it is a transformational piece of social and economic infrastructure.