EGNOS presence felt at major geodesy event

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22 November 2010

EGNOS was a hot topic of discussion at the recent InterGEO conference and trade fair in Cologne. The European satellite-based augmentation system is making headway in the high-precision location and navigation sector, and both service providers and users are taking notice.

The EGNOS stand at InterGEO 2010 © Donna ReayThe EGNOS stand at InterGEO 2010 © Donna Reay

"Whatever the application, if you need high precision, EGNOS is the obvious answer," says Jean-Yves Lauture of GENEQ inc. "Our experience has been that a lot of our clients simply don't know yet what EGNOS is. At worst, they know about it but think it doesn't work or is unreliable. But it doesn't take long, once we have demonstrated our applications, for them to join the ranks of the EGNOS-convinced."

GENEQ inc. makes portable, user-friendly GPS modules augmented by SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation Systems, such as WAAS in US and EGNOS in Europe). Using innovative technology they are able to deliver sub-meter accuracy in real-time. "These units offer users performance suitable for a variety of applications," explains Lauture, "including utilities, mining, machine navigation, precision agriculture, GIS and mapping, at a very affordable price.

"Even in forestry applications and other difficult mapping environments, EGNOS allows our systems to keep working and to deliver the accuracy our clients need, and it makes post-processing or a beacon receiver completely unnecessary." Lauture says a number of small and medium sized municipalities have also expressed a keen interest in this kind of service.

High profile event

InterGEO is the world's leading trade fair and conference for geodesy, geoinformation and land management, drawing decision makers, developers and buyers from around the world. Organisers say geoinformation has already become a part of our everyday lives and influences decisions in the public and private sectors on a regular basis.

"This is our first time at the InterGEO event," said Reinhard Blasi of the GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA). "The important thing for InterGEO participants to know is that EGNOS is available now, stable and free of charge. There is no subscription fee, so they can benefit from the increased accuracy of EGNOS without any new pressure on their budgets by new investments in infrastructure or hardware."

For Blasi, it came as no surprise to see professionals from all of the precision-based sectors already mentioned, but also from receiver manufacturers and distributors, in significant numbers at the EGNOS stand. Lauture says the European Commission as well as the GSA have been extremely helpful in disseminating the EGNOS message, but he stressed the process is just beginning.

"We need more help in getting the word out about how EGNOS can improve the way we deliver services and the impact it can have across the geodesy and geoinformation sectors. One thing I can say is that I was really thrilled to see the GSA here for the first time at InterGEO."

Broadening interest

Reporting on the InterGEO conference for GPSWorld, journalist Erik Gakstatter had a lot to write about EGNOS: "EGNOS folks at InterGEO are providing a dynamic and effective service in educating the community of ground users. In many ways, EGNOS is at the same point WAAS was at a number of years ago in that there was much misinformation being spread about accuracy and availability. From the data I've seen, EGNOS is every bit as precise as WAAS. The GSA folks take it a step further and also offer an EDAS (EGNOS Data Access) service so ground users can access EGNOS corrections via an internet connection instead of from geostationary satellites. […]

"The rumour mill says that European surveying and mapping users don't believe that EGNOS can be used reliably for sub-meter mapping. I think I'll stop by their booth… and tell them about the success that North America has enjoyed from WAAS. […] Yes, my European brethren, EGNOS can be used reliably for sub-meter mapping." Inspired by the InterGEO experience, Gakstatter announced the preparation of a dedicated report on EGNOS and its applications.

Michaël Mastier of the European Commission's Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General says the comments by Gakstatter and others clearly confirm the importance of EGNOS' presence at InterGEO and similar high-profile events. All of which means we can look forward to hearing more about European satellite-based navigation as the widening array of users and service providers wake up to the power of EGNOS.

As EGNOS is still the 'new kid on the block' for mapping applications, the European Commission, together with the GSA, has launched an online survey on the GSA website. The aim will be not only to collect insights into where EGNOS is adding value but also to give EGNOS professionals a voice.

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Updated: Mar 30, 2015