Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) consists of constellations of satellites that provide continuosly optimized location and time information, transmitting a variety of signals on multiple frequencies available at all locations on planet Earth. The GNSS are the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) of the Russian Federation, GALILEO of the European Union and the COMPASS/BeiDou of China. India and Japan have developed regional GNSS capability by launching a number of satellites into space that augment the capabilities that are already supplied by the global systems to provide additional regional coverage. As providers of GNSS services, the six global and regional system providers have grouped together in a Providers' Forum in order to conduct discussions of mutual interest focused on improving coordinated service provision to benefit humankind.
In an attempt to build a system of systems, the International Committee on GNSS (ICG) was established in December 2005 in an International Meetinng at the United Nations Office at Vienna as an informal, voluntary forum to promote cooperation, as appropriate, on matters of mutual interest related to civil satellite based positioning, navigation, timing and value-added services, as well as the compability and interoperability of GNSS, while increasing their use to support sustainable development, particularly in developing countries.
To support the work of ICG, the Office for Outer Space affairs, as the ICG Executive Secretariat, is focusing on promoting the use of GNSS technologies as tools for scientific applications, including space weather effects on GNSS, education and training on GNSS, and utilizing regional reference systems and frames.
A five-day workshop on GNSS technology and its applications, Riga, 14 - 18 May 2012, is being organised by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in cooperation with the Government of Latvia, the United States of America through the ICG and the European Space Agency (ESA), as part of the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications. The Workshop will be hosted by the Latvian Geospatial Information Agency on behalf of the Government of Latvia.
Workshop participants will discuss how GNSS-enabling technology can strengthen a network of national reference stations and promote the interoperability of navigation, positioning and timing systems in the region. An overview of a wide range of GNSS applications existing today and prospects for the future, in areas such as surveying, mapping and asset management, precision agriculture, engineering and construction, aviation and maritime, as well as space weather monitoring will be provided.