What is SBAS?

MIAL members are among the first in the world to test new satellite positioning technology in the trial of a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Australasian region. The two-year project is testing two new satellite positioning technologies including next generation SBAS and Precise Point Positioning. This will provide positioning accuracies of several decimetres and five centimetres respectively.

Why is SBAS being tested?

Positioning data is fundamental to a range of applications and businesses worldwide including:

  • Increases in productivity
  • Securing safety and propelling innovation
  • Enabling GPS on smartphones
  • Providing safety-of-life navigation on aircraft
  • Increasing water efficiency on farms
  • Helping locate vessels in distress at sea
  • Supporting intelligent navigation tools
  • Supporting advanced transport management systems

The project is looking to test and improve the positioning capabilities of Australia and New Zealand. An SBAS will overcome the current gaps in mobile and radio communications and, when combined with on-ground operational infrastructure and services, will ensure that accurate positioning information can be received anytime and anywhere within Australia and New Zealand.

Who is involved in the project?

The two-year trial is being funded with $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government. It is being managed by Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand, in partnership with the global technology companies GMV, Inmarsat and Lockheed Martin. The Australia and New Zealand CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) is managing the industry projects which will demonstrate the benefits and applications of improved positioning capability.

What is MIAL’s involvement?

There are 30 projects across ten main sectors including agriculture, aviation, construction, maritime, mining, rail, road, spatial, utilities and consumer. The MIAL Project is focusing on five maritime applications:  Commercial, Construction, Offshore, Research and Cruise. MIAL’s SBAS Project is supported by the New Zealand Shipping Federation (NZSF) and its members enthusiastically providing their assets for the testbed. One of MIAL’s key tasks is to test the broadest possible geographical range in the Australasian region, which is why the test area is scheduled from Antarctica in the south to Indonesia in the north, from Fremantle in the west to Vanuatu in the east and a lot more in between. If there is a signal black spot, we want to find it.

Where is SBAS being tested?

SBAS testing will occur throughout the land and maritime jurisdictions of Australia and New Zealand. MIAL has enjoyed strong support from its members and the entire maritime industry enabling the SBAS trials to start as soon as the equipment became available. Testing commenced in November 2017 in Australia on CSIRO’s Investigator which is managed by MIAL Member ASP Ship Management Group. In January 2018, a second testing kit became available in New Zealand and NZSF’s Member Silver Fern had it installed on the Matuku. A smaller magicUT receiver has just become available which is a hand-held device we are hoping to use in high altitude lake environments. We are now half way through the trials with both kits currently on research vessels. The NIWA vessel Tangaroa is on a 52-day voyage to Antarctica and the P&O Maritime managed Aurora Australia is on a 20-day voyage to Macquarie Island.  Please find below the map of geographical coverage.


Further reading:

The SBAS Project - MIAL MAX March edition

SBAS Funding of $160.9M Applauded by Maritime Industry, Media Release

Better GPS and Satellite Imagery to Support a Smarter Economy - Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan

Geoscience Australia CEO Statement on Budget 2018-2019 - Dr James Johnson