User Consultation Platform helps shape the future of European GNSS

The European GNSS User Consultation Platform was hard at work in Marseille during this year's EU Space Week. Parallel panel sessions brought together users from different market segments. Each session had specific objectives aiming at profiting from the valuable contributions of users. The UCP ended with a plenary session in which the elected chairperson of each panel presented the results of their discussions to the wider community.

The User Consultation Platform (UCP) is a forum The UCP enables direct interaction between users of positioning, navigation and timing solutions and the organisations and institutions that oversee Galileo and EGNOS.enabling direct interaction between users of positioning, navigation and time solutions and the organisations and institutions that oversee Galileo and EGNOS.

The UCP took place for the first time in 2017. The participants are actual users of the solutions, comprising representatives of associations such as standardisation bodies and industry groups, regulatory bodies and other members of the user community.

Watch this: EU Space Week in Marseille, 3 - 6 December 2018

The 2018 meeting of the UCP took place at the elegant Pharo Palace with spectacular views overlooking Marseille's old port. The platform was divided, on the first day, into subgroups representing the professional, transport and mass markets. A plenary to bring them together took place on the second day. Tasks undertaken by each group included discussing and validation of user needs and requirements on positioning, navigation and time technologies that can later be evaluated and, for those relevant to GNSS, implemented in the EGNOS and Galileo programmes. The ones that cannot be implemented in the current technology baselines will be taken into consideration for future evolutions of the systems. Feedback on current Galileo Service Centre user support was also elicited among other topics of the upmost importance such as R&D priorities, PNT backup solutions, high accuracy services, etc.

What the users said

The Platform's plenary session was open to all participants in European Space Week. Members of the plenary audience were encouraged to comment and to ask questions as the chairpersons of each of the eight individual sectors reported the results of their discussions. A panel of representatives of the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency listened attentively to the messages delivered by the presenters, asking their own questions whenever necessary.

  

Key insights from the working sessions

Mass Market

As an outcome of the mass-market users’ consultation session, the fastest growing mass market applications identified were robotics, people and asset tracking, safety and emergency, and m-health. In the area of robotics Philip Mattos, Positioning and Technology expert at GNSS module manufacturer U-Blox and chair of the mass-market platform, highlighted how spoofing-proof solutions are currently of particular interest, especially for robots that carry valuable loads.

Road Transport

Reporting for the road transport session was François Fischer, Senior Manager Connected and Automated Driving at ERTICO. He said that in the key application area of automated driving, no single existing technology can equal the navigation and location performance currently being delivered by GNSS. Complementary technologies, however, such as cameras, HD maps and motion sensors can help to reach minimum performance requirements.

Aviation

Russell Dudley, from the European Regions Airlines Association, reported on discussions on user requirements for different applications, including for aircraft distress tracking. Remote activation is a new functionality under analysis to be offered by Galileo via its return link, to prevent cases such as MH370 or other 'non-cooperative aircraft'. Airlines confirmed interest in the service and support activities to validate the end-to-end concept, including all actors such as air traffic control.

Rail Transport

According to chairperson Salvatore Sabina of Ansaldo STS, the rail sector recommends continuing work on defining the rail-related service to be provided by EGNOS, including all service provision aspects. The sector would also like to see what alternatives are possible for the transmission of EGNOS corrections enabling future use in rail safety relevant applications, based on the conclusions of the STARS project.

Maritime and Inland Waterways

Reporting for the maritime sector, Jean-Pierre Barboux of FDC pointed out the high dependency on GNSS in that area. He said back-ups for positioning, timing and synchronisation all need to be further analysed. There is also current interest in high-accuracy positioning, especially for port navigation.

Agriculture

Aerovision CEO Tamme Van Der Wal discussed research innovation priorities. He said there was a key interest in exploiting synergies with other initiatives, including existing public-private partnerships, the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area, and especially with Copernicus, the EU's flagship Earth Observation programme.

Surveying and Mapping

Roberto Capua, Responsible for GNSS R&D at Sogei, said the surveying and mapping industries are eagerly anticipating upcoming European GNSS services. Of special interest here are: the high-accuracy service; the authentication function, especially for drones and institutional applications; dual-frequency signals; and the Ionospheric Prediction Service.

Timing and Synchronisation

Ilaria Sesia, Responsible for Galileo Timing Activities at the Italian National Metrology Institute, said the most relevant European GNSS service for timing and synchronisation is Galileo Open Service Navigation Message Authentication. The sector has great expectations for this Galileo differentiator and would like to see this service deployed as quickly as possible. New and emerging applications of particular interest were analysed, such as Digital Video Broadcasting, autonomous cars, data management centres and scientific applications as well as upcoming 5G.

  

Positive reception

Considering the depth and breadth of the presentations, as well as the response from gathered EU Space Week delegates, the 2018 UCP exercise was very productive. Fiammetta Diani, Head of Market Development at the GSA, said all the comments, suggestions and requests were important and would be properly assessed to determine how they can influence the evolution of European GNSS services.

GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides thanked all the UCP participants for their engagement and said: “The GSA works very hard to maintain close relationships with our GNSS users, and that means all stakeholders in the downstream markets. An important part of the value of the GSA is built on these relationships.”

Matthias Petschke, European Commission Director of EU Satellite Navigation Programmes, said: “What this User Consultation shows is that we are listening to you. Unlike other GNSS around the world, Galileo is a demand-driven programme. We want to hear your ideas and we want to know what you need, to bring your ideas to the market and create businesses.”

The event in Marseille was the second full UCP meeting. The first meeting took place in November 2017 in Madrid.

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