New Zealand’s Minister for Land Information Eugenie Sage, alongside Minister for Transport Phil Twyford, announced Budget 2019 funding for a satellite based augmentation system (SBAS) that will help save lives and drive innovation.
According to a recent press release, the New Zealand Government, together with Australia, is investing in world leading technology to vastly improve the accuracy of GPS in New Zealand.
Improving the accuracy of GPS
Doing so will enable faster and safer helicopter rescues and innovation in a range of emerging technologies.
Budget 2019 set aside nearly NZ$ 2 million (NZ$ 1.99 million) for Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to work with its Australian counterpart, Geoscience Australia.
Together they will investigate ways to deliver a regional Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) to significantly improve GPS accuracy.
This funding will allow LINZ and Geoscience Australia to jointly develop specifications and undertake initial procurement processes.
Once a preferred provider for delivering SBAS has been identified, approval to release further funding will be sought to implement a regional SBAS.
New Zealand and Australia are working together on the initiative so both countries can share costs and reduce duplication of effort in the region.
Why improve the accuracy of GPS?
The Ministers spoke to pilots, while visiting the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, about how the new technology will support emergency helicopter crews to make more accurate approaches.
This will mean that they will be able to reach patients in challenging locations.
Safety is the top transport priority, and this technology will save lives.
Improved GPS will provide rescue helicopter pilots with accurate vertical guidance for landing, which translates to reaching patients faster in difficult terrain and bad weather.
Moreover, it will also improve the safety of self-driving cars in the future, where precise positioning information will allow safer navigation and help avoid collisions.
GPS usually provides positioning information accurate to about 5-10 metres. This new system will improve the accuracy to less than a metre, and in some devices to 10 centimetres.
Satellite Based Augmentation System
Investment in an SBAS strongly aligns with the Government’s Budget priority of supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities.
Several examples of SBAS applications in emerging technologies were mentioned. These include:
- Virtual fencing
In the future, livestock may wear GPS-enabled collars to stop them from going where they are not supposed to.
This will replace some physical fences, keeping livestock out of waterways, and making grazing more efficient.
- Workplace health and safety
This is particularly for the forestry sector, where more accurate GPS can alert workers using equipment to other people in the area.
- Navigating ships in confined waters
While at confined waters, accurate position, speed, and heading are needed to ensure that the vessel can navigate and pass through safely.
When fully implemented, it is expected that SBAS will result in NZ$ 1.47 billion worth of economic benefits to the New Zealand economy.