Positioning, navigation and beyond
Experts share their views on issues, priorities and chanllenges on the occasion of 100th issue of Coordinates
Coordinates 100th Issue – Longitudes and Latitudes
Coordinates 100th Issue is indeed a milestone. Just like in cricket or baseball scoring a century or a home run does not come in every innings except for the very gifted and talented. However, in the case of Coordinates it is very welcome and heartening to note that the journal is endurable, enduring and is producing a kind of a continuing dialogue that many subscribe to.
It is fascinating to read Dava Sobel’s Longitude about the clockmaker William Harrison who took nearly forty years to solve the ‘longitude’ problem – determining east-west location at sea. The scientific problem was how to make a clock that would keep precise time at sea something that no clock has been able to do on land. Now we know this perfect time piece is the chronometer. It is about triumph over astronomy, navigation and clock making. Then when you couple this with Latitude – voila we can tell with some precision a precise location on Earth and anywhere else. Today, the GPS and GNSS make it all too simple that we even have it in our cars.
The story of Coordinates is precisely about the dissatisfaction with simply GIS and its variants – GI Science, GI Systems, GI Services – because all these are bound up by to omnipresent location of something. Geography is in our everyday lives and we cannot do without it. Web enabled devices ensure that we cannot get lost, are always in contact somewhere and somehow as well as being noticed even without our knowledge with near field communications, RFIDS, ‘bumps’ with our hand phones. The challenge now is for Coordinates adapt and ascend to the skies, as it were, to deal with ‘Big Data’ and with Cloud Computing and be prepared to deal not only with the 2-dimensional coordinates but also with the 3-dimensional z-coordinate as well as the 4th dimension temporal elements.
A survey of the table of contents of all of the 100 issues of Coordinates will chronicle the evolution and development of the field of coordinate geometry in terms of not only where something is taking place but also what, how, and when. There are a myriad applications which could be simply location-based services, surveying, disasters and crises both natural and human induced, border demarcation and disputes, determination of geodetics, technology and all its gadgets but also intangibles like policy and the law. The geospatial industry is inextricably intertwined with all matters that impinge on human activities, the geographical matrix and the interactions between all these in a dynamic world.
There is no doubt that the basic premise and philosophy behind Coordinates as a respected journal will endure into the future with its constant re-invention to adapt to the digital and natural environment. The challenges could be whether the digital environment has inadvertently determined that the paper copy is being transformed into the paperless copy and that such a business model will prove enduring.
Growing realisation of the limitations of all GNSS
During the 100-issue lifetime of Coordinates magazine, new navigation satellite systems have joined GPS and there has been a growing realisation of the limitations of all GNSS. Satellite Navigation has been an outstanding technical development of the last quarter century: it has brought great benefits to mankind without polluting the environment or frightening the horses; everybody loves it! But, as with every innovation, the euphoria eventually gives way to reality and a willingness to recognise and address its limitations. Understandably, the USA has led the way here with its early recognition of the vulnerability of GPS to jamming, interference, solar weather and spoofing. In contrast, many European and Far Eastern nations, caught up in the excitement, effort and high costs of developing new satellite systems, have closed their ears to any talk of their imperfections.
The vulnerability of GNSS is seen most dramatically at sea. Shipping, in marked contrast to aviation, which has retained legacy technologies, has come to rely almost entirely on GPS for navigation even in the busiest seaways in the lowest visibility. Multiple GPS receivers drive multiple systems on the ship, often in ways no-one aboard understands. Low-level interference causes not only loss of service, but also false positions and velocities, which appear without warning. Even the ship’s radar and gyrocompass – apparently independent of satellite navigation – turn out to be linked to GPS. These are major safety concerns. Not surprisingly, nations are now turning to Enhanced Loran as a source of PNT wholly independent of satellite navigation, yet compatible with it. Applications of GPS have expanded rapidly into those financial and legal areas in which new technology is rigorously tested in the adversarial processes of the courts. In many countries, GPS evidence in criminal prosecutions must meet the stringent standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”- when challenged by lawyers who are fully briefed on the multiple vulnerabilities of the technology. They will probe the substantial position errors due to multipath propagation in dense urban areas. Disputes over payments in GPS-based road user pricing schemes, claims of theft by delivery drivers, and the behaviour of motorists whose vehicles are fitted with telematics insurance units are all coming into the courts. As Coordinates magazine enters its second hundred issues, these matters will be tested and some of them resolved. I will be paying particular attention to watching the developing use of spoofing: commandeering GNSS receivers by transmitting false signals. Once just a theoretical possibility, spoofing has now been demonstrated and effective equipment is becoming available. This provides mouth-watering opportunities for practitioners in the criminal arts of hijacking and stock-exchange fraud – on all of which Coordinates magazine will no doubt keep us well informed in the next 100 issues.
GNSS has become a truly international resource
International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), for which the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs acts as Executive Secretariat, was established in an international meeting at the United Nations Office at Vienna as an informal, voluntary forum where governments and interested non-government entities can discuss all matters regarding global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) on a worldwide basis. ICG promotes international cooperation on issues of mutual interest related to civil satellitebased positioning, navigation, timing, and value-added services. The establishment of ICG recognizes that GNSS has become a truly international resource, and demonstrates the willingness of providers and users to ensure that GNSS services continue to be available in the future for the benefit of humankind. Furthermore ICG represents a milestone achievement in Member States cooperation in the use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
The neutral, negotiation-friendly nature of the United Nations provides the context necessary to enable Member States such as the United States, the Russian Federation, States members of the European Union, China, India and Japan, which have highly-developed GNSS technologies, to come together, and to work out ways and means to use multiple GNSS systems and hence to build a system of space-based navigation and positioning systems.
Once all (global and regional GNSS systems) become fully operational, the user will have access to positioning, navigation, and timing signals from more than 100 satellites. However, to achieve a true system of GNSS systems, a host of questions concerning compatibility and interoperability need to be addressed by system providers. Additionally, GNSS user community inputs regarding interoperability and the provision of improved capabilities should be considered.
For developing countries, GNSS applications offer a cost-effective way of pursuing sustainable economic growth while protecting the environment. Satellite navigation and positioning data are now used in a wide range of areas that include mapping and surveying, monitoring of the environment, precision agriculture and natural resources management, disaster warning and emergency response, aviation, maritime and land transportation, as well as research areas as climate change and space weather.
To date, the vulnerabilities of GNSS are well categorized, and it is understood that space weather is the largest contributor to singlefrequency GNSS-errors. Primary space weather effects on GNSS include range errors and loss of signal reception. The GNSS industry faces several scientific and engineering challenges to keep pace with increasingly complex user needs: developing receivers that are resistant to scintillation and improving the prediction of the state of the ionosphere. With GNSS modernization, the use of additional signals is expected to reduce errors caused by ionosphere.
Significant progress continues to be made through ICG, and the results of this work not only promote the capabilities of GNSS to support sustainable development, but also promote new partnerships among members of ICG and institutions of the broader user community, particularly in developing countries. As a member of ICG and serving as the ICG Executive Secretariat, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs will continue to further its contributions to ICG’s achievements in the future.
In conclusion, as we move forward in the 21st century, governments and business in developing and industrialized countries are exploring potential growth area for their national economies. Almost without exception, the most promising option seems to be outer space and in particular satellite positioning, navigation and timing, and its potential and future almost universal applications
Multi-GNSS: Now and in the Future
For years we have been extolling a future in which several constellations of navigation satellites – global and regional systems as well as a small number of geostationary satellites making up SBASs, but all conveniently lumped under the term “GNSS” – beam signals to users at several frequencies on which receivers make multiple measurements from which Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) information is derived. We drool over the new signal structures, simulate the performance benefits, speculate on new applications, and promote greater multi-GNSS interoperability.
The multi-GNSS future epoch when all are expected to be operational is 2020. Yet we make progress and it is useful to take stock of what has been achieved just in the last 3 years since 2010. Consider the pace of space segment development: all four U.S. GPS-IIF satellites were launched (and tests of L2C and CNAV were made), broadcasting the new L5 signal; Russia’s GLONASS system became operational (and plans for next generation CDMA signals were announced); China’s BeiDou achieved RNSS status with 15 satellites (to reach 35 satellites by the end of the decade); Japan’s first QZSS satellite was launched (and plans for 6 more were released); four E.U. Galileo satellites are functioning; and India launched the first of its planned seven satellite Indian RNSS.
There is considerable progress in terms of international initiatives, such as: the launch of the International GNSS Service (IGS) Multi-GNSS Experiment (MGEX); the launch of the IGS’s Real-Time Service (supporting Precise Point Positioning techniques); the establishment of several global reference receiver networks by commercial and government entities; standards setting (e.g. RTCM, RINEX, ITRF, etc); UNOOSA International Committee on GNSS (ICG) activities with regard to interoperability and compatibility; growth in interest in non-PNT applications of GNSS; and recognition that society’s ever growing reliance on GNSS comes at a cost of increased vulnerability to denial of PNT service by jamming or spoofing.
Furthermore, we have been surprised by the quality of the BeiDou signals. A particularly useful PNT solution, especially for high accuracy carrier phase-based techniques, combines GPS+BeiDou measurements. We are delighted by the innovative QZSS signals, especially the augmentation service provided by the correction data modulated on the LEX signal, and applaud that QZSS is truly 100% interoperable with GPS. The modernisation of GLONASS – to broadcast in future CDMA signals in addition to the current FDMA signals – will lift interest in a GNSS that otherwise could be at a disadvantage in the future multi-GNSS world. We also wait for a significant “push” from Galileo, that has to prove many sceptics wrong, and launch 18 or so satellites in the next few years to reach full operational capability before the end of the decade. (Perhaps the most underwhelming GNSS news this year was Galileo-only solutions, using measurements from the four satellites, for just a few minutes each month!) India’s IRNSS is still (unfortunately) a big unknown, and there have been few indications that the IRNSS will even acknowledge the benefits of a multi-GNSS world.
In 2013 there is a lot to be enthused about. The future of multi-GNSS is always but one satellite launch away
Education, Integrated Navigation and Safety are key issues
GPS is well and flourishing, still dominating the satellite navigation user market completely after 20 years of operation. It has even become the synonym of sat.nav. equipment for many people who, when talking about their car navigators, use the words “my GPS”. GLONASS is again operational with some 24 satellites, Galileo with now 4 operational satellites will reach 18 in about two years, and Beidou is developing fast with now 16 satellites in partly regionally operational modes. Satellitebased augmentations like WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS, GAGAN and SDCM cover different regions of the world, and together with autonomous regional systems as IRNSS and QZSS they contribute to a multitude of navigational satellites. The question has been asked: Do we need all that? The answer depends on political, economic and technical considerations, but it has been shown that global systems have a kind of break-even at about 70 satellites in total. This means that a bigger number leads to decreased performance because of the raised noise floor.
I will focus on three issues with priorities and challenges: Education, Integrated Navigation and Safety.
Education at all levels is important, not only to tell people that GPS is not that device which they have in their cars.
Teaching and research in navigation at several European universities has been considerably reduced during the last decade. Convincing governments and university administrators that these subjects still are important, also at academic levels, is necessary.
Integrated navigation (multisensor, sensor fusion) is important because satellite equipment alone cannot meet all requirements in every situation. Particularly indoor navigation and position determination has turned out to be demanding and economically increasingly important. Lack of standardization contributes to a multitude of incompatible and expensive solutions, many of which are tailor-made for specific tasks. Tracking elderly people, children and handicapped persons has developed into a multi-million business area, and this requires good indoor capabilities. MEMS inertial-based equipment is fast getting better and cheaper, offering viable solutions.
Safety has the highest priority, and at the same time this is a big challenge which has received far too little attention. With GNSS-based equipment being such an important part of everyday life, it is astonishing that politicians and other decision makers have so little knowledge and take so little interest in this matter. This concerns civil use in particular; on the military side people are usually well aware and taking their precautions. Because of the very weak signals received from the satellites, reception is easily interfered with. Experience shows that intentional interference (jamming) is a smaller problem than unintentional, although the Internet offers a wide variety of cheap jammers. Most users can live with the interference threat, but the problem is that those who cannot too often are not prepared and do not know what to do when their GNSS-based equipment does not perform as required. From this point of view it is astonishing that a good terrestrial (back-up) system as eLORAN gets so little attention.
GNSS-related spectrum protection should become the international priority
In the modern world not only familiar with, but increasingly reliant on, satellite navigation, the four major challenges emerge to be exploited and resolved in the forthcoming future.
First, the sustainable, inter-operable and continuous core GNSS service should be guaranteed through both technological and financial efforts. Questionable funding of core GNSS operation should be removed by raising the GNSS technology to the level of national infrastructure, essential for uninterrupted provision of position, navigation and timing (PNT) services. GNSS-related spectrum protection should become the international priority. Currently on-going technological modernisation of GNSS system should continue in concert with the market demands and opportunities in more optimal spectrum utilisation.
Then, the considerable enhancement in GNSS signals offering should spark the innovative research and development work on both navigation and nonnavigation applications. New and advanced methods for signal processing of satellite signals are to bring landmark developments in GNSS receiver design (including the advanced utilisation of software-defined radio, SDR, and cognitive systems), as well as in creation of entirely new GNSS application segments for remote sensing, meteorology, agriculture, environmental monitoring, and sensing the environment in general.
A growing number of services and applications emerges as the result of the exploitation of mobile objects’ identification in space. A part of them, especially in classic navigation tasks, requires position, as description of an object’s identification in material (physical) world. However, many applications exploit a complete different approach: description of an object’s place in the information landscape (context) and contextual relationship with the other neighbouring objects. This description is frequently referred to as location. Exploitation of location can be considered as contextual navigation, being in heart of the applications in telecommunications (Location-Based Services, or LBS) and transport (Intelligent Transport Systems, or ITS), to name just a few. Finally, but still far from being insignificant, recent years have brought increased interest in the inherited natural human navigation and orientation knowledge and skills. Exploitation of this inheritance should be considered, with satellite navigation appearing as the assistive rather than the competitive technology. Both the EU and the USA have recently announced kick-offs of large scientific projects, aiming at understanding of human brain. Expectations should be kept that the understanding of inherited natural navigation human skills will be among the projects’ targets, providing the framework for a development of a new segment of the so-called cognitive navigation, which is to form a fundamental contribution to system integration with artificial navigation technologies (including GNSS) in the aim to provide another breakthrough in the safely and economically leading the moving objects (including humans) from starting to ending points of their journeys.
Air traffic safety and earthquake prediction are key applications
Among the key issues involving navigation, two applications connected to safety (air traffic and earthquake prediction) are discussed here, with most space allocated to the first. Both are heavily affected by crucial choices for data to be acquired and shared. Importance of that, obscured by current custom, is loaded with major opportunities to enhance capability.
It is widely acknowledged that today’s air traffic control system
• is an evolutionary product of incremental design
• if configured now with no need for back compatibility, would change radically
• cannot safely be granted the design freedom just identified.
It is becoming less widely recognized that present plans exhibit performance falling short of (not-too-distant) future needs.
I first highlight various methods ingrained in our industry, and describe how those habits severely limit our industry’s capabilities. Today’s systems work in terms of coordinates. When generated by GPS, those come from SVs selected by different receivers. Positions, inherently perishable, are mediocre and there are meters per second of velocity error. During the time (e.g., two minutes before time-to-closestapproach in collision avoidance) while control decisions are taking effect, that produces hundreds of meters uncertainty. Alternative features not being used (nor even planned) include
• transmitting measurements, not coordinates
• using carrier phase comparison
• computing relative separations not based on “absolute” positions
• single-measurement RAIM instead of always requiring at least 5 SVs with good GDOP
These and others, cited in an expanded discussion at , produced vast performance improvement, flight-verified . This was communicated to the European Commission Call for Ideas, and to those involved in collision avoidance for cars , noting that decision-makers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to avoid severe limitations inherently imposed by convention.
For the second application considered here, earthquake prediction is widely regarded as an unsolved problem. In addressing it I obtained encouraging results by applying morphometrics adapted from medical imaging. A deformable structure was represented by a point mass located at each observation station landmark near Tohoku. Migrations produced a sequence daily recorded in 2011, used in affine transformation modeling. Five of the affine degrees-of-freedom affect shape; those 3D shape states, and a rotation-minimization procedure preceding their least-squares extraction, provided the following features:
• abnormal departures in the rotational behavior appeared twice pre-quake (16 days and 5 days ahead).
• abnormal residuals (departures from the affine model) offered valuable revelations, in time (premonitions at those 16 and 5 days pre-quake) and spatially — most corresponding to the landmark closest to epicenter!
No generalization is claimed, but other quakes should be examined for these traits. The full manuscript  included detailed steps for verifying rotation behavior just described plus data enabling duplication of that portion of the results. The methods are of course applicable also to data recorded from other quakes, provided that procedures described in  are heeded; without the data from , results just described would not exist.
In summary, stunning benefits obtainable in both traffic control and earthquake prediction depend heavily on seemingly mundane but critical decisions for data acquisition and handling. Procedures used here for both applications depart significantly from custom, hence their slow march toward adoption. I’ll close by offering a revised adage: necessity is the mother of invention and of willingness to use what’s been invented.
 http://www.ion.org/publications/ abstract.cfm?articleID=10234
 J.L. Farrell, “Earthquake Analysis by 3-D Affine Deformations,” ION Pacific PNT 2013.
 F. van Graas and R. Kollar, “Processing of GPS Station Data for Prediction Algorithm Analysis of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake,” ION Pacific PNT 2013.
Cloud PNT and the reliable PNT are the most important
Thanks to the US government policy of opening GPS signal to publicity, the technology development in GPS applications brought us almost ubiquitous navigation for past 20 years. Moreover, other technologies like MEMS and Wifipositioning technology has been rapidly developed in order to fill the gap between almost ubiquitous and seamless navigation. Recently, with the rise of multiconstellation GNSS it can be expected that more effort will be made for achieving the cloud PNT which try to use every available resources like the cloud computing. Meanwhile, the need of reliable PNT will become stronger than ever as the application of GNSS becomes wider. The reliable PNT is likely to means robust usage of GNSS against interferences and secure usage of GNSS in the aspect of the privacy as well. I personally believe that the cloud PNT and the reliable PNT are the most important issues in GNSS for the coming years.
QZSS has a unique function called augmentation
8 GPS satellites, 5 GLONASS ones, 10 BeiDou ones, one QZS and 4 SBAS. What does this imply? The number of satellites elevation at higher than 15degrees from Tokyo at noon in the end of July. Good 28 satellites are available in the sky in Tokyo. In 2015, more than 5 satellites may join them if the Galileo satellites are launched following the schedule. The Japanese Government has decided to continue developing the regional satellite navigation system QZSS additional two IGSO satellites and one GEO in September 2011 by 2020. And the new scheme was established in this March and it has been announced that the 4 satellites can be used in early 2018. It is said that 7 satellites’ regional system will be deployed after complete the present project with additional 3 satellites. QZSS satellites are said to be supplemented to GPS satellites, because they transmit exactly the same ranging signals for civil use with those by GPS. However, how they will work as additional GPS satellites in the circumstance with so many positioning satellites in the sky where more than 4 times larger number of satellites can be observed than those of GPS only. Of course, some effect is expected such as somewhat improvement of the accuracy with lowering DOP, especially in the urban canyon. The positioning function itself is not much expected from QZSS. Fortunately, QZSS has a unique function called augmentation, which GPS does not have. It has two data transmitting channels, named L1-SAIF (Submeter Augmentation with Integrity Function) and LEX (LEX – L-band EXperimental). They are the key factors for QZSS to be worth existing. After the first launch of QZS-I named “Michibiki” which means “Guiding light” in English, on 11th of September, 2011, the original software to deduce the orbit and clock deviation has been developed successfully by the cooperative research program of Japan Explore Research Agency (JAXA) and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology. MADOCA (Multi-gnss Advanced Demonstration tool for Orbit and Clock Analysis) is the fruit of the research program. It is originally developed for the QZS, but it shows the better performance to estimate the orbit and clock errors than those estimated by the traditional ones such as Bernese, GAMIT and GIPSY. Now they are going to develop the PPP algorithm using deduced parameters by MADOCA. Then LEX (L-band experiment) signal, on the same carrier of Galileo E6, which has a broad service area and can be used as a tool to transmit the augmentation data which realize the cm-level real time precise point positioning with neither user’s own reference receiver nor data transmission line in its service area. As for L1-SAIF signal, it is transmitted overlaying on L1 C/A signal. It has the equivalent format to that of SBAS. But the originally produced more suitable data for the area than SBAS data. Although data on LEX and L1- SAIF are still under developing to improving the performance, the augmentation data, originally designed, transmission must be the key function such regional satellite system, QZSS and IRNSS, besides the security function, implicitly expected.
Role of the surveyor as a measurement specialist has now become blurred
Change is an axiom of life and this has been particularly so for the surveying profession over the last 50 years. For those of us who have lived through these times, we have been part of the transition from optical theodolites and steel measurement bands to electronic distance measuring equipment appended to optical theodolites, to total stations, to the GPS and thence on to fully integrated measurement systems whether they be founded upon robotic, inertial or scanning principles. Spatial data collection platforms can now be terrestrially based, drone based, aircraft based or satellite based.
Commensurate with these changes in data collection have been changes in data computation and processing. The move from log books and mechanical calculators to electronic scientific calculators, thence on the mainframe computers, mini computers, and on to PCs has been equally fast. Our smart phones alone now possess computational, data processing, communication, and data capture capabilities formerly never previously imagined. As for data backup, just look above to the cloud!
Against this backdrop of successful adaptation to change, what can surveyors expect in the future? Without doubt, further technological change! But, perhaps even more importantly, changes in who we are and what we do.
To my mind, the distinctive role of the surveyor as a measurement specialist has now become blurred. While high precision work in specialised areas such as engineering surveying, and underground mining will continue to require specialist training, other measurement tasks are just as likely to be undertaken by specialists from other discipline groups. Geophysicists regularly conduct their own GPS campaigns in assessing earth deformation whilst a number of (non-surveying) discipline groups now use terrestrial or airborne laser scanners and process the resulting data. As a profession, we either move quickly and adapt to these new technologies or we will be left behind, either marginalised to those increasingly fewer specialist tasks that technology has not yet made ubiquitous to the masses, or to those tasks where we have convinced a wider audience that risk mitigation demands the use of our specialist skills.
Fortunately, surveying, in its broadest sense, is far more than measurement – it is also land administration. While technology can assist in the land administration task, the understanding of the basic principles of land administration is much more a matter of social science and land law. The surveyor’s intimate knowledge of cadastral systems combined with a fundamental understanding of both reference and measurement systems, gives a strategic professional advantage. Typically, it has been in the definition of cadastral boundaries that surveyors have found their regulatory niche where other professions have been unable intrude. Will this remain the case in the future? We cannot be sure.
Some would argue that the management of spatial data is also the domain of the surveyor – a view with which I would agree. However, it is also an area in which other professionals have an active interest and thus, again, will be subject to competitive professional pressures.
At the broadest level, then, it is my view that the surveying profession needs to decide urgently what it is that defines uniquely the domain of the “surveyor”. At a global level, what mix of knowledge, training and skills should form the core component for an enduring professional qualification – one that will stand the test of the next 50 years as robustly as the one in place 50 years ago. This is the crucial question that needs to be answered, in order that the foundations be strengthened so as to allow the profession to move forward with confidence.
GNSS market is fragmented
The Indian SBAS GAGAN has two Indian satellites at 55 and 82 deg, East longitude and I understand that GAGAN has reached the RNP 0.1 capability. The APV 1.0 target is likely to be achieved in a few months. This performance has been achieved with dedicated efforts of the Indian Department of Space & Indian Space Research Organisation, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India on the one hand and Raytheon US and MITRE on the other. With L1 and L5 downlinks, GAGAN would be one of the most advanced Air Navigation System in the World. GAGAN can be used for both Civil Aviation and non-CA applications in India. The precise positioning, navigation and time (PNT) service provided by GAGAN will find ready market in Mobile phones, personal mobility,Engineering Surveying, Large Infrastructure projects,Intelligent Transport Systems, LBS, precision farming,green-field airports and a host of other services. Many countries in the Middle East, South East Asia, Korea and Sri Lanka could benefit by collaborating with the Indian Administration in fielding similar systems in their region.
The GNSS market in the world is looking up with 31 GPS, 24 GLONASS, 4 GALILEO and 12 SBAS satellites augmenting the GPS. In India the GNSS market is fragmented and there is a need to bring diverse users under one umbrella to boost sales and educate the service providers of the benefits of Wide area systems and their impact on Engineering applications. The European SBAS EGNOS and GAGAN are similar and cover a large landmass over Europe, Africa, Middle East, India, South East Asia and Sri Lanka. It opens up vast opportunities for collaboration between Indian and European industry to teamup for mutually beneficial projects.
LAS underpins efforts to realising Spatially Enabled Societies
Land Administration Systems (LAS) enable the management of land information, which is fundamental for informing decisions about economic, environmental and social issues of priority. In today’s modern society, LAS also underpins efforts to realising Spatially Enabled Societies, where location and spatial information are regarded as common goods and made available to citizens and businesses to encourage creativity and product development. Spatial enablement uses the concept of place and location to organise information and processes and is now consistently part of broader government strategies. This promotes innovation, transparency and democracy by enabling citizens and we are therefore, potentially at the start of a spatial information revolution.
Such developments have only been possible due to the increasing ubiquity of spatial data and location information, which is reliant on a variety of technical infrastructure not only for dissemination and use, but for supporting the entire lifecycle of spatial information. Fundamental to the genesis of any type of spatial information is the accuracy and reliability of the positioning network. Many jurisdictions have adopted satellitebased position to improve accuracy and transparency in their LAS and in this context the data is increasingly being captured directly from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), but there are still challenges that need to be overcome such as applicability in built environments, and more integrated manner to deliver a better connected government and society. As well, research into different dimension and utilisation of positioning including 3D land and property management and indoor positioning are providing new aspects to LAS, improving its relevancy to modern land administration requirements.
Advances in geodesy and GNSS have vastly improved the accuracy and reliability of spatial information in general and LAS in particular. And yet, ongoing research shows there is still much progress to be made, even as we simultaneously continue to establish new developments in positioning technology. There will be ongoing challenges in communicating these developments to users and helping them to interpret and understand this information to facilitate their purposes.