Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) refers collectively to all of the satellite navigation systems in operation or being developed around the world known as the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States of America, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) of the Russian Federation, Galileo of the European Union and Compass/BeiDou of China. In addition, these systems are supplemented by space-based augmentation systems (SBAS) or ground-based augmentation systems (GBAS). Examples of SBAS are the United States of America wide-area augmentation system (WAAS), the Russian system of differential correction and monitoring (SDCM), the European geostationary navigation overlay service (EGNOS), or the Indian GPS-aided geo augmented navigation (GAGAN) and the Japanese multi-functional transport satellite (MTSAT) space-based augmentation system (MSAS). These systems augment the existing medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellations with geostationary (GEO) or geosynchronous satellites signals or other environmental factors, which may impact the signal received by the users. Using several or all of the GNSS satellites in orbit, productivity typically increases as well as accuracy compared to using only one system..
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.
Globally there is growing interest in better understanding solar-terrestrial interactions, particularly patterns and trends in space weather. This is not only for scientific reasons, but also because the reliable operation of ground-based and space-based assets and infrastructures is increasingly dependent on their robustness against the detrimental effects of space weather. Currently, more than 1,000 instruments are operational in 14 ground-based world-wide instrument arrays (GPS receivers, radio antennas, magnetometers, cosmic ray detectors) for research on climate change, space weather, and ionospheric phenomena. These instrument arrays are utilized to constitute the International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI) in the period of time from 2010 to 2012. The details on the ISWI are available at: http://www.iswi-secretariat.org/
A five-day workshop on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) technology and its applications in Baška, Croatia, from 20 to 25 April 2013 is being organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) in cooperation with the Faculty of Maritime Studies of the University of Rijeka as part of the activities of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, for the benefit of the countries in Europe. The Workshop will be hosted by the Faculty of Maritime Studies of the University of Rijeka.
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 will have to be given to developments aiming to the following:
- all aspects of the agriculture industry, from basic rural cadastre and surveying to advanced precision agriculture, benefit from the use of GNSS. Agro-climatic and ecologic-economical zonings, crop inventory, monitoring and forecasting are examples of agricultural activities where positioning and timing are of paramount importance. In the area of climate change, different factors and mechanisms drive land use and transformation. In many cases, climate, technology and economics appear to be determinants of land use. At the same time, land conversion is an adaptive feedback mechanism that farmers use to smooth the impact of climate variability, especially during extremely wet or dry periods;
- monitoring and observing the Earth and its weather systems. Satellites gather data for global climate models, and efforts continue in developing refined models that can be used in regional and national settings. The use of GNSS has been significant in making detailed observations of key meteorological parameters, whose measurement stability, consistency and accuracy could make it possible to quantify long-term climate change trends; and
- in the area of transport, studies have shown that civil aviation will significantly benefit from the use of GNSS. These benefits include: improved navigation coverage in areas currently lacking conventional tracking aids, accurate and reliable information about aircraft positions and routes that enables safe and efficient management of air traffic, (particularly on airport approaches). Road transport applications can automatically revise a route to account for traffic congestion, changes in weather conditions or road works. Similarly, at sea, GNSS technologies can provide efficient route planning, collision avoidance and increased efficiency in search and rescue situations. For rail transport, GNSS offers enhanced cargo monitoring and assists track surveying. In addition, communication systems, electrical power grids, and financial networks all rely on precision timing for synchronization and operational efficiency. For example, wireless telephone and data networks use GPS time to keep all of their base stations in perfect synchronization. This allows mobile handsets to share limited radio spectrum more efficiently.
The main objective focuses on the importance and need of cooperation to apply GNSS solutions through the exchange of information and the scaling up of capacities among countries in the region.
The specific objectives of the workshop are to: (a) update on-going activities related to the use of GNSS technology in participating countries; (b) enhance institutional and human capacity on utilizing GNSS technology using case studies, lessons learned, and experiences from other countries; (c) identify the specific needs of individual plans and projects on GNSS at the regional and international levels for near-, medium-, and long-term applications, taking into consideration the local institutional settings, including specific training and capacity-building needs; (d) develop a regional plan of action that would contribute to the wider use of GNSS technology and its applications, including the possibility of one or more national or regional pilot projects, or both, in which interested institutions could incorporate the use of GNSS technology; (e) define recommendations and findings to be forwarded as a contribution to the ICG.
The expected outcomes of the workshop are: (a) recommendations and findings on discussed topics; (b) preliminary agreement of cooperation between countries in the region and the GNSS continuously operating reference station (CORS) networks, such as the European Position Determination System (EUPOS) and the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) Subcommission for Europe (EEUREF); (c) action plan addressing identified issues/concerns.