ACT News

Tenders called for Australia's GPS technology infrastructure

A planned upgrade to Australia's global positioning technology will bring it closer in line with international systems and give users access to more accurate GPS signals. 

Geoscience Australia has called for tenders to update the receivers and antennae infrastructure used to track satellites in the Global Navigation Satellite System.

That includes the American GPS, European Galileo, Chinese BeiDou, Japanese Quasi Zenith and Russian GLONASS systems. 

The Canberra-based agency's Geodesy and Seismic Monitoring group leader Gary Johnston said the infrastructure upgrade would boost the system's capability to detect the GPS. 

It would also update the technology to track all the international systems designed to date, and would be finished in time for the expected completion of China's system in 2016.

He said that while most countries had largely relied on the American GPS since it emerged in the 1980s, other powerful nations were developing their own systems in order to strengthen their defence capabilities.

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They also recognised increased demand for the technology across a wide range of industries and for personal use. 

Mr Johnston said while Australia was a small country with less capacity to build space infrastructure than bigger countries, it was well-positioned in the Asia-Pacific to leverage international systems.

He said global positioning technology was advancing at a pace which meant it could be accurate within centimetres by the end of the decade.

"Within the next five years we will actually have GPS and the full constellation of satellites that we will be able to receive signals from, so it will be far more robust and far more accurate than GPS alone."

He said a combined international system, once the full constellation of 30 satellites was deployed, would provide more accurate global positioning co-ordinates.

"Already we're seeing improved accuracy from combining the US system with the Chinese system," he said.

Australia's national tracking network is made up of 25 core reference stations, which includes several in Antarctica, and more than 100 stations spread across the mainland and Tasmania.

Each of those stations contains a receiver and an antenna which constantly tracks GPS signals transmitted from space. 

It is that infrastructure which is set to be updated.

Continuous data collected from the sites helps to refine Geoscience Australia's national co-ordinate system and improve the accuracy of GPS technology Australians use on their mobile phones and car navigational devices.