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New Zealand, Australia Collaborate on Satellite Positioning Services

The Land Information Minister, Damien O’Connor, recently announced a joint Trans-Tasman partnership, which will provide Australasia with world-leading satellite positioning services that are up to 50 times more accurate than current services. This is expected to boost economic productivity, sustainability, and safety.

Businesses, communities, farmers, and first responders across Australia and New Zealand will reap the benefits from greater satellite positioning accuracy with the award of an AUD$ 1.18 billion, 19-year contract to bring the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) to life.

As per a press release, services will be available in the next few weeks. The SouthPAN project will immediately improve the accuracy, reliability, and availability of existing satellite positioning systems in Australasia. SouthPAN will provide instant, accurate, and reliable positioning to users across all of Australia and New Zealand’s land and maritime zones without the need for a mobile phone signal or internet,

With SouthPAN, search and rescue operations will be able to work better in poor weather conditions and remote places. It will help drive innovation in fenceless farms and precision agriculture, which will improve productivity and lift sustainability credentials. Future applications include tracking shipping and navigating drones and unmanned vehicles.

Independent analysis of SouthPAN shows it has the potential to benefit many major sectors in New Zealand from transport, construction, and utilities to agriculture, forestry, and horticulture. The quantified economic benefits from this are estimated to be $864 million over the next 20 years and will provide New Zealanders with greater economic security into the future.

SouthPAN is the Southern Hemisphere’s first satellite navigation augmentation service. This is crucial digital infrastructure for the future, and the government expects the actual benefits to be greater over the project’s lifespan. In the time to come, products on the market will use this infrastructure to create value in new ways for businesses and consumers, O’Connor added.

New Zealand’s partnership with Australia was vital to accessing this technology and O’Connor acknowledged them for partnering on this significant investment. “Without this partnership, the cost of entry would simply be too great for New Zealand to take on alone,” he said.

Australia’s Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, explained the investment is a major commitment between the Australian and New Zealand governments, providing broad benefits for all of Australasia. “We’ve already demonstrated that industry and the community can use this for ground-breaking applications that increase safety, improve productivity, and drive innovation across a broad range of industries,” King stated. SouthPAN is estimated to generate over AUD$6 billion in benefits to the Australian economy over the next 30 years.

The network will enable mining companies to install more accurate collision avoidance systems on automated mining haul trucks or allow visually impaired citizens to navigate cities with pinpoint assistive technologies. Further, it will enable light aircraft to land more safely in remote rural areas in all weather conditions, bringing benefits for essential services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the communities they serve.

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