European Space Week 2020 kicked off on Monday 7 December with the User Consultation Platform (UCP) plenary, where users from different market segments presented the results of work carried out during the UCP over the previous week. Copernicus users were included in the UCP for the first time, and possible services and applications arising from synergies between Copernicus and Galileo were very much in focus.
Opening the UCP plenary, GSA Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa noted that users were central to EGNSS. “This is why the User Consultation Platform is so important – it helps us to develop new services,” he said, adding that it is also a valuable tool for industry and for policy-makers, with inputs feeding into the development of new GNSS applications and into Horizon Europe downstream activities.
EGNSS for post-COVID recovery
Representing the Aviation segment, Vanessa Rullier, Senior Manager at the European Business Aviation Association, noted that recovery from COVID would depend on society’s ability to meet its social and environmental obligations. She said that more should be done to extend the use of EGNOS approaches to reduce aviation’s footprint. Synergies between EGNSS and Copernicus can play a role in finding the best sustainable trajectory for aircraft, she said.
Captain Johan Gahnstrom from CompetenSEA noted a clear trend towards the development of new assistance functions in the Maritime sector, along with the first steps towards automated vessels, not only for maritime and inland waterways but also for surveillance and fisheries control. With regard to the latter, he noted that a precise verified location would be essential for monitoring vessels, adding that Galileo and OS-NMA authentication would be very important in providing an undisputable position.
In the area of Natural Disasters & Emergency Response, Juan Luis Valero from the European Union Satellite Centre said that user feedback was positive on the three new Galileo services based on the Return Link Service (Remote Beacon Activation service, Two-Way Communication service, and Beacon Distress Positioning sharing service). He noted that users had identified a few challenges associated with the implementation of these new services, mainly related to power supply, user interface, and integration with platforms, such as boats.
Need for High Accuracy
Samuel Ryckewaert General Manager at Ubiscale said that in the Mass Market power consumption is a recurring issue and that 91% of users consider it crucial. Regarding Galileo differentiators, he said that 55% of users had shown a high interest in high accuracy. Miguel Ortiz, geolocation research engineer at the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks (IFSTTAR), also noted the importance of high accuracy. He said that automated driving had high demands in terms of not only accuracy, but also availability and robustness. Regarding the High Accuracy Service, he said the UCP highlighted the need to design new EGNSS services and to plan their evolution aligned with the market landscape, to avoid entering into competition with commercial offers.
Michele Tozzi from the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) noted that GNSS is key for the deployment of new mobility services such as MaaS and combined mobility, and that space data is also extremely useful to improve the efficiency of traditional services. He said that it is necessary to raise awareness about Galileo’s benefits, and that projects such Ariadna are working to achieve this.
Heinz Reichinger from RUAG Space noted that there are many different applications in the space sector, all of which have different priorities and accuracy requirements. He said that a position accuracy of 3.5m is good for many space applications and that the Galileo HAS service is already needed in this market segment. He said that there is also increasing interest in authentication for resilient GNSS-based navigation in space.
Robustness against spoofing
Heiko Gerstung, Managing Director at Meinberg Funkuhren GmbH noted that protection against GNSS jamming and spoofing threats is now on the agenda of most - if not all - infrastructure operators. The UCP Critical Infrastructure session highlighted the importance of a built-in GNSS authentication service such as Galileo OS-NMA - but also the Galileo Commercial Authentication Service (CAS) - to improve robustness against GNSS spoofing.
As regards the timing and synchronization segment, Guerric Pont from the GSA said that standardisation is an important building block to help market uptake. He said that telecom operators already had to follow standards, but that technical guidelines specifically covering GNSS issues would be useful.
In the context of Agriculture and Geomatics, Pablo Olmos from Leica Geosystems said that synergies between EGNSS and Copernicus provide a much better understanding of the environment and unlock the potential to create new applications and businesses. He said that these synergies are also essential for the Farm to Fork strategy in agriculture, helping to reduce pesticide and fertilizer use.
Winding up the session, the GSA’s Head of Market Development Fiametta Diani noted that the UCP had highlighted two commonalities from across the market segments: the importance of Galileo’s differentiators – HAS and OS-NMA - which will bring in new user communities; and the need to leverage synergies between Galileo and Copernicus, particularly in the area of sustainable mobility.
Looking ahead, she said that the inputs from the UCP would feed into updates of the GSA’s User Needs and Requirements reports, while helping to improve current services and shape the evolution of the next generation of services and applications.