Budget boosts precise location services

PEL823 Budget boosts precise location services

This year’s Federal Budget contained an announcement of considerable significance to anyone with an interest in locating underground infrastructure.

It announced funding of $224.9m to Geoscience Australia to overhaul satellite-based positioning and data provision services for Australian global navigation satellite system and spatial data users.

GSA says it will use $160.9m of this to develop a dedicated Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) that will improve the accuracy of GPS coverage to deliver an expected 10-centimetre accuracy across Australia and its maritime zone.

In a statement following the budget the CEO of GSA, Dr James Johnson, said accuracy in areas with mobile coverage would be to three centimetres.

He listed just some of the many benefits of highly accurate positioning, saying: “Improving Australia's positioning capability is not just about improving location services on a smartphone.

It's about helping farmers reduce costs and waste, enabling the Royal Flying Doctor Service to land in more locations than ever before, making it easy to dock a cruise ship in a busy port like Sydney Harbour, and improving safety on construction and mining sites,”

And, he added: “These are just a handful of the benefits we already know about.”

The remaining $64m will be used to establish a national ground station network, improve coordination across government and the private sector, and ensure Australian industry has access to world-leading software tools for positioning.

This funding follows a two-year trial of the technology that we reported on in March 2017 being undertaken with the backing of the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

The significance of this to the underground infrastructure industry was made clear earlier this year when we reportedinfrastructure-protection/news/45…satellites how two New Zealand organisations — Christchurch geospatial technology company Orbica and Wellington based geophysical and infrastructure consultancy, Reveal Infrastructure — had joined these trials to see if the technology could pinpoint the location of exposed underground assets with a margin of error of 10 centimetres or better.

And it was not the only funding allocation in the budget that could benefit those involved with underground infrastructure. Following $15.3m in the 2017 Budget, Digital Earth Australia (DEA) was fully funded with an additional $36.9m over the next four years.

Johnson said this would enable DEA to provide the high-quality data and tools required for policy and investment decision-making, and enable businesses to develop applications and services for sectors across the entire Australian economy.

“DEA is world-class digital infrastructure that gives everyone, from government organisations to business, town planners to farmers, free access to thirty years of satellite imagery of the Australian continent,” he said.

“The capabilities DEA provides will help to increase business efficiency, bolster profits and create jobs.”

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