Galileo Public Regulated Service ready for action

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04 April 2017
Charles Villie, PRS Manager at the GSA, speaking at the Munich summit

The unique Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) offers a dedicated authenticated and encrypted service for governmental authorised users in areas such as public safety and security, critical infrastructures, and defence. The PRS session at the Munich Satellite Navigation Summit on 16 March provided an overview on the current status of PRS implementation in Europe and a glimpse of its potential applications.

“Integrity is a major driver for backup systems for GNSS,” said Dr. Stefan Baumann of IABG and moderator of the PRS session. He noted that the capabilities of PRS brought authorised users a more reliable and robust positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) system.

The European Commission’s DG GROW reminded the audience that PRS was part of the Galileo Initial Services declared on 15 December 2016. The main task now is to make the transition to exploitation. PRS offers increased continuity of service in crisis situations and its signal structure is much more resistant to interference than the Galileo open service signals.

The European Commission is looking forward to the full deployment of the Galileo constellation by 2020, working in concert with the ground elements of the system such as the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) near Paris and the Competent PRS authorities (CPAs) that must be established in Member States in order to access and control the use of PRS within their borders.

To follow the publication of the EU’s Space Strategy in 2016, it is likely that the range of security-related space applications will increase in the future and there could be increased demand for the more secure and robust PNT service offered by PRS.

Half of European Member States have already established CPAs, and other third countries outside the EU have expressed interest in accessing the system.

Fully functional

Charles Villie is PRS Manager at the GSA in Prague. He described PRS as “an encrypted navigation service designed to be more resistant to jamming, involuntary interference and spoofing… offering continuity of service, including higher availability of the signal in space and providing an independent authenticated position, velocity and timing service.”

“Today all PRS functionalities are available,” he continued. “The whole infrastructure is functional and operational. Now authorised governments can test their procedures for real and users can check PRS functionalities themselves.”

He admitted that to boost user acceptance would require the demonstration of excellent performance with a robust and secure service that offers unlimited uninterrupted access, adding that test activities are planned in 2017.

Villie also gave an overview of the development of PRS receivers. Receiver concepts had been developed and validated via PRS pilot projects under the Horizon 2020 programme.

User viewpoints

The PRS session concluded with the views of three representatives of Member State CPAs. Lukas Schmid spoke for the German CPA and saw many applications for PRS with police and security services. He thought that server-based solutions for Galileo PRS providing authenticated positioning, tracking and timing information, and available as of today, would significantly simplify challenges such as the tracking of tagged terrorist suspects.

Schmid also described the Hali Berlin project that synchronised green traffic lights for emergency vehicles. Using PRS helped to secure the application and greatly reduced the time for emergency vehicles to get to incidents while also reducing the number of accidents involving emergency vehicles.

The German government sponsored a special prize for PRS applications as part of the European Satellite Navigation Competition. Schmid said that he looked forward to joint test activity with Belgium and other Member States and further miniaturisation and simplification of PRS receiver technology.

The head of the French CPA is Colonel (Armament Corps) Philippe Bertrand. The CPA established within SGDSN was part of an organisation that will ensure the interoperability of Galileo PRS with military GPS for the French Ministry of Defence (MoD). This reduces costs and risks by using people who are already familiar with GNSS technologies.

During 2016, Colonel Bertrand’s CPA unit had been deeply involved with the French MoD and the French Space Agency (CNES) in validation of PRS, including monitoring and security tests. “It is very clear that PRS’s navigation performance is really good,” he stated. Tests in operational environments are now being performed regularly with the GSMC.

“It is key that the programme gains full operational capability by 2020 and provides a very high level of security,” he concluded. “If these expectations are met then the PRS user communities will come.”

This was echoed by the final speaker Massimo Mercati, an advisor to the Italian CPA. He felt that the Member States would be key players in PRS and believed that full FOC would be achieved in 2020.

During a final Q&A in the session, the relative accuracy of PRS was discussed. Colonel Bertrand reiterated his results on PRS navigation performance in a set of different operational environments saying that: “the navigation performance was very good and very interesting.” He believed that navigation performance would be a key and important feature of PRS.

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Updated: Apr 04, 2017