The Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) will be a unique feature of the EU’s new Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). This robust and secure signal will be made available to authorised users, such as emergency services, via authorised national authorities. To highlight the capabilities of PRS, this year’s European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) and the Satellite Masters conference featured it as a special topic.
The Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) is an encrypted navigation service designed to be more resistant to jamming, involuntary interference and spoofing. It combines the robust characteristics of a military GNSS signal with the huge potential of a civilian-controlled GNSS.
To further explore the full potential of future PRS applications, the German Federal Government launched the PRS Special Prize at this year’s European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) in Berlin. In parallel, the PRS session of the Satellite Masters conference (also in Berlin) provided an overview of the many innovative ideas submitted as part of the competition. Put together, the session demonstrated the state of play and the way forward for Galileo PRS, with contributions from the public and private sector who evaluated market opportunities and discussed risks and challenges for future development.
Opening the session, Ulrich Reinfried of the German Competent PRS authority (CPA) - part of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) – described some of the reasons that PRS should be of great interest to all European civil authorities: “PRS improves the security of critical infrastructure, enhances robustness against jamming and spoofing for the next generation of governmental systems,” he said.
He specifically noted that as many vital government services rely on accurate positioning information, ensuring that this information is both secure and reliable is incredibly important. “Galileo PRS will provide a new standard for reliability and trust for positioning data,” he said.
Describing the main features of PRS and the opportunities it presents, the GSA’s Claudio Palestini said “the PRS uses a dual band signal (using both Galileo’s E1 and E6 signals) that makes it much more resistant to interference. The result is a highly trustable position velocity and timing service.”
The management of security is at the heart of the PRS system. At the EU level, two Galileo Security Monitoring Centres (GMSC) have been established and several Member States have established CPAs tasked with managing and controlling the use of PRS services and manufacturing of PRS equipment, including the production and control of PRS receivers. “In addition to EU Member States, some third countries have also manifested their interest in accessing PRS,” said Claudio Palestini.
The potential market for PRS is huge. There are an estimated some three million civilian security personnel (police, emergency services, etc.) in Europe, and the majority may require access to PRS. In addition, other markets for PRS receivers may include secure timing and synchronisation services for such critical infrastructures as banking and smart power grids.
However, the key to rapid uptake will be the availability of low-cost secure PRS mobile receivers.
Luckily, just such a receiver system was the recipient of the overall Galileo Masters award, as well as the Bavarian regional prize and the PRS Special Prize winner, at ESNC 2014.
Drs Jan Wendel and Wolfgang Kogler of Airbus Defence and Space, who accepted the prize, said their innovation aims to reduce the complexity of the receiver while maintaining its highly secure operating environment. To do this, they developed a solution that removes the need for a security module on the receiver handset, instead confining the security element on central ‘assistance servers’ that generate the navigation message in a secure environment. This message is then broadcast to conventional professional mobile radio (PMR) units, including the based TETRA and TETRAPOL radio communication models..
“This means the computational load is independent from the number of users, but implements and ensures PRS access control by including all security features while delivering low operating costs for the user receivers,” said Kogler.
The Airbus team got their idea after attending a GSA organised PRS workshop last summer. “We saw the potential benefit from PRS and also saw the issues,” recalls Kogler. “On the plane back from the workshop we got the idea.”
Running the lights
Rainier Horn of SpaceTec Partners presented an example of a potential area for PRS operation from Finland. The concept had been developed and implemented by the city council of the northern Finnish city of Oulu, but can be extended to other cities across Europe.
Oulu experiences an extended winter with icy roads and high snowfall. This makes driving conditions tricky and emergency vehicles responding to incidents are involved in a relatively high number of accidents. To alleviate this, the town developed the HALI project to link a monitoring system that includes CCTV and GNSS tracking with the central traffic light control system. This enables emergency vehicles to be ‘green lighted’ through the main urban intersections to an incident anywhere in the municipal area.
Now emergency vehicles are getting to incidents faster and accidents involving them have been practically eliminated, with benefits for safety all round. The addition of PRS to this system could add a further layer of security and allow a wider secure deployment.
UAV + PRS
The final presentation of the session looked at the possible implementation of PRS into customised high performance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Oier Penagaricano of Alerion Technologies showed how UAVs can operate in extreme environments and act as substitutes for manned operations when conditions are too hazardous. The key is the incorporation of PRS into such vehicles to extend secure operations for missions such as search and rescue, along with complementing existing manned missions. The result is increased effectiveness and flexibility in challenging environments and at a low cost.
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