GNSS a key element of all-purpose, user-driven positioning solutions

Users don’t differentiate between good indoor and good outdoor positioning; they want solutions that deliver good positioning everywhere. Speaking at the IPIN 2018 indoor positioning and navigation conference in Nantes on 25 September, the European GNSS Agency’s Justyna Redelkiewicz presented the agency’s work to map user requirements along with the latest issue of its GNSS User Technology Report.

Understanding user requirements is key to delivering solutions that respond to user needs. However, these requirements are extremely diverse. Redelkiewicz, who is in charge of LBS and IoT market development at the GSA, said at the conference that last year alone a User Consultation Platform run by the GSA had collected more than 400 completely different user requirements, some of which contradicted each other.

Consequently, there is no single positioning solution that we are aiming for, as no single positioning, navigation and timing solution is capable of satisfying user needs in all use cases,” she said, adding that there is a place for all technologies in providing effective solutions. “As an example, in the case of smartphones we have to look at visual navigation, we have to look at ultra-precise MEMS and Signals of Opportunity and see how we can integrate all available technologies to provide the best solution.”

Read thisGNSS User Technology Report 2018 available for download now!

Even though GNSS is a mature technology, there is still is a lot of development around it, particularly involving multi-frequency, so developers of outdoor-indoor positioning solutions should look at what is happening in GNSS and understand that there is more to the technology than simple navigation, Redelkiewicz said.

Looking to the future

The future of automated, intelligent positioning systems will be built on four main areas of development. Firstly, there is accuracy – here, rather than focusing on millimetre-level accuracy that is achievable with expensive receiver technology, the goal is to reach decimetre level accuracy that is available to everyone everywhere.

The second area of development is ubiquity, which means having seamless location everywhere – both outdoors and indoors. Another important element is connectivity, allowing the exchange of data with infrastructure and with other users to generate value added solutions using location. “There is a lot of development on both satellite and terrestrial networks such as 5G, LPWANs or satellite communication LEO constellations to provide the connectivity needed to enable constant sharing of positioning information,” Redelkiewicz said.

Finally, there is security which, in addition to robust and secure positioning, also involves protection of location information and covers all other issues related to data privacy.

Better availability

GNSS is responding to all of these needs. From 40 operational GNSS satellites in 2000 the global constellations have increased their fleet to 100 satellites in 2017. Likewise, the installed base of GNSS devices has increased to around 6 billion today, the majority of which are smartphones, of which currently around 400 million are Galileo-enabled.

This means that most people have a satellite receiver in their pockets and are able to use it. Of particular significance from the point of view of ubiquity, currently only about 30% of receiver models are single-constellation, which means that the majority use two, three or four constellations simultaneously.

On the downside, it has become increasingly easy in recent years to spoof a GNSS location, as spoofing devices have fallen in price. However, Redelkiewicz noted that authentication can provide a solution to this. “From 2020 Galileo will provide Open Service Navigation Message Authentication (OS-NMA), which will be a type of digital signature confirming that a particular signal comes from a particular satellite,” she said, adding that this is supported further by a lot of development around end-to-end authentication and security, including with blockchain.

Increased accuracy

Galileo’s multi-frequency capability is responding to the need for increased accuracy. Around 40% of receiver models on the market are now multi-frequency. And, with the launch of the world’s first dual-frequency GNSS smartphone by Xiaomi, and u-blox, STM, Intel and Qualcomm launching their first dual-frequency products earlier this year, multi-frequency has entered the mass market, addressing user needs for increased accuracy.

Moreover, commercial augmentation services offering precise point positioning (PPP) and real-time kinematic (RTK) corrections are starting to target the mass market, and system providers are also aiming at providing new high accuracy services, such as the Galileo High Accuracy Service, Redelkiewicz said.

Access to GNSS raw measurements is also opening up new possibilities for app developers and users in terms of increased accuracy and robustness. The possibilities offered by access to these raw measurements were the subject of a separate tutorial at IPIN 2018. (See article below.)

And thisGNSS raw measurements delivering greater accuracy

The availability of raw measurements, combined with the availability of very powerful chipsets, the fact that dual-frequency capability is available in smartphones and high precision corrections are freely available means that the gap between high precision and the mass market is closing.

The market used to be split between consumer, high precision, and safety-critical applications, but now everything is converging. Indoor and outdoor positioning solutions are also converging to provide ubiquitous location, so the future looks very exciting,” Redelkiewicz said.

GNSS User Technology Report

The second issue of the GSA’s GNSS User Technology Report, which Redelkiewicz presented at IPIN 2018, is available for free download, providing an exhaustive review of all the latest GNSS trends and developments. Like the inaugural Report in 2016, the second issue focuses on three key macrosegments: mass market solutions; transport safety- and liability-critical solutions; and high precision and timing solutions.

Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link back to the GSA website (