Speaking at this week’s Geospatial World Forum in Rotterdam, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) discussed the many benefits that EGNOS and Galileo offer the geospatial sector and, specifically, the surveying and mapping domains.
Speaking at the Geospatial World Forum, the premiere event for the geospatial sector, the GSA highlighted the multiple benefits that such European GNSS programmes as Galileo and EGNOS bring to European surveyors, as well as illustrating synergies with the EU Earth Observation programme Copernicus. Topics discussed included how to increase industry adoption of GNSS, how to better meet user needs, and the integration of E-GNSS into geospatial equipment and end products.
Although all of these topics are of interest to surveyors, the topic on the top of everyone’s mind was the status of Galileo – and the GSA came bringing good news.
As two additional Galileo satellites were launched just that morning, Galileo satellites 13 and 14 will be followed by the launch of four more satellites later this year, with the declaration of Galileo Initial Services expected in the autumn. “Currently 80% of all GNSS receivers for surveying and mapping are EGNOS enabled and 45% are already Galileo enabled. This confirmed that the sector is well-positioned to benefit from of the Galileo services” says the GSA.
Galileo’s improved signal robustness, varying levels of authentication and its Commercial Service’s high-accuracy receiver error below one decimetre are all features that will greatly benefit geospatial users. According to a recent GSA survey, 78% of respondents say they will be ready to use Galileo signals by 2017.
As a prelude to what is in store for surveyors, the Swedish Cartographic Society reported that the Swedish surveyors are already anticipating how Galileo will help them for surveying in cities and other difficult environments. Most of the reference stations of SWEPOS, the Swedish national reference network provider, are fully equipped with Galileo-capable receivers.
However, Galileo will not operate in a vacuum. Not only is it interoperable with other GNSS systems, it also offers numerous synergies with the EU’s Copernicus Earth Observation system – particularly for the geospatial sector. “There is a huge potential for synergies between geopositioning and surface imaging,” says Dufourmont, Project Manager Copernicus Land Monitoring Services of the European Environment Agency. “For example, the sector is currently using both systems to track animals and monitor migration paths before making development decisions.”
Collaboration and support
To ensure the surveying community takes full advantage of all that Galileo and EGNOS have to offer, the GSA and the Council of European Geodetic Surveyors (CLGE) continue to collaborate. For example, GSA awards the special Galileo prize in the framework of the annual CLGE Young Surveyor Prize. Last year’s winner, Laura van de Vyvere of M3 Systems in Belgium, made innovative use of Galileo’s unique four frequency signals to improve positioning in harsh ionospheric conditions.
GSA aims at responding to end-users’ needs and it therefore established a unique interface Galileo systems and users: the GSC (European GNSS Service Centre). The GSC is the platform where users can get information about the Galileo system status and performances, system documents and it includes a helpdesk.
The GSA is further supporting the uptake of European GNSS in the surveying sector via various funding mechanisms. For example, the Horizon 2020 LARA project is bringing together GNSS, augmented reality and 3D GIS geo-databases to show utility workers operating in the field what lies below the service – allowing them to know where it is safe to dig. MapKITE, another Horizon 2020 project, is bringing together terrestrial and aerial mapping systems, such remote payloads as LIDAR and GNSS systems for simultaneous geodata acquisition.
Source: European GNSS Agency (GSA)