​NZ government contributes AU$2m to join Geoscience Australia's positioning project

The funding will be used to trial Satellite Based Augmentation System technology to improve the accuracy of positioning in Australasia.

The New Zealand government has made a AU$2 million contribution to help Australia improve the accuracy of satellite positioning technology in the region.

It is expected that the AU$2 million will be used to trial Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) technology over two years, and will also see Land Information New Zealand; the New Zealand Transport Agency; the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; the Ministry of Transport; and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) work with Geoscience Australia, which has been charged with overseeing the project on behalf of the Australian government.

The funding from New Zealand follows the AU$12 million injection from the Australian government last month, awarded to help bolster the technology that it expects will provide benefits for many industries in the region, including transport, agriculture, construction, and resource management.

It was announced last week that United States defence giant Lockheed Martin, alongside Inmarsat and GMV, will be partaking in trials of the SBAS technology. The global giants will be testing two new satellite positioning technologies -- "next generation" SBAS and Precise Point Positioning -- which Geoscience Australia said provides positioning accuracy of several decimetres and five centimetres, respectively.

Currently, Australia relies on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) of other countries including the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS); however, these international systems typically give Australians positioning accuracy of five to 10 metres.

The SBAS test bed will also utilise existing national GNSS infrastructure developed by AuScope as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

According to the government, the widespread adoption of improved positioning technology has the potential to generate upwards of AU$73 billion of value to Australia by 2030.

"From using Google Maps on your smartphone to emergency management and farming, most Australians use and benefit from positioning technology every day without realising it," Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan said in a joint statement.

In March, Geoscience Australia and the CRCSI will call for organisations from a number of industries including agriculture, aviation, construction, mining, maritime, road, spatial, and utilities to participate in the test bed.

The announcement comes after the Australian and New Zealand governments signed a treaty-level Science, Research, and Innovation Cooperation Agreement on Friday that will see both countries work together to tackle chronic disease and advance general health care, in addition to improving the accuracy and availability of GPS signals.

"This is the first treaty of its kind between our countries. It formalises what has been a naturally close and enduring partnership," said recently appointed Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Senator Arthur Sinodinos. "More importantly, it recognises the immense economic and social potential that merging our efforts and resources can bring to the region."