Sunday, April 14, 2024

Honing in on world-class satellite service

Land Information Minister, Damien O’Connor says world-class satellite positioning services that will support search and rescue efforts, boost precision farming, and boost construction site safety are a significant step closer.

Minister O’Connor marked the start of construction on New Zealand’s first uplink centre for the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) at an event in Southland on Friday.

“It will be the first time Satellite Augmented Positioning has been available in the Southern Hemisphere and is estimated to benefit the economy by over $860 million in the long term,” he said.

“SouthPAN will enhance the accuracy, reliability and availability of positioning services, like GPS to as little as 10 centimetres – greatly improving the current accuracy, which is currently around five to ten metres.

“It is open access digital infrastructure that gives entrepreneurs both now and into the future the opportunity to provide new services and grow our economy.”

With early Open Services now freely available, SouthPAN enables farmers and growers to use invisible fences and drone-based spraying to manage livestock and crops.

“By 2028, it will enable helicopters and planes to fly safely in weather they can’t fly in now minimising disruption due to adverse weather conditions. It also improves safety in industries such as construction by providing virtual barriers that protect people from heavy machinery,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Benefits will extend from things as simple as your Uber picking you up on the right side of the road, to the greater ability to monitor our precious species across the conservation estate.”

Two 11-metre antennae are being built by project contractor Lockheed Martin Australia at the SpaceOps NZ Satellite Ground Station in Awarua. They will link to a control centre in Invercargill, monitored by operators 24 hours a day.

“Our future export growth relies on lifting our sustainability credentials, and SouthPAN will help farmers and growers with precision through application of inputs and improved livestock management.”

“By telling us exactly where we are, SouthPAN will help us tell a story of who we are and how we farm,” the Minister said.

SouthPAN is a joint venture with the Australian government to bring high resolution positioning to Australasia.

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