7 August 2013

Student Global Site Visit Tour

CRCSI PhD student Grant Hausler recently returned from a whirlwind trip to the US, Canada and Switzerland. Considerable effort went into preparing the trip to coordinate site visits with leading GNSS agencies across the US and Canada where Grant presented current CRCSI research on Australia’s National Positioning Infrastructure (NPI). Grant’s CRCSI top-up scholarship was used to organize these research visits.

In Pasadena, California, Grant was invited to tour NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, home to the central bureau of the International Global Navigation Satellite System Service (IGS). Grant’s research explores the technical, organisational and economic requirements for Australia’s NPI, so the opportunity to visit the IGS provided first-hand experience of the best-practice guidelines and open source platforms that inform his studies. He found the visit ‘immensely valuable - actually meeting the teams compiling the data, writing the plans, building the websites and collaborating so effectively on a global scale.’

Presenting to management and technical teams within Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the Federal GNSS Coordination Group within Industry Canada introduced Grant to Canada’s Surveyor-General and leading experts in coordinating geodetic infrastructure. Grant’s follow-on presentation at the Precise Point Positioning (PPP) Workshop in Ottawa identified work through The University of Melbourne and CRCSI aimed at enabling a high accuracy positioning capability across Australia through the NPI.

Grant detailed Australian approaches for overcoming technical and institutional ‘positioning’ challenges that are common amongst countries with similar geographic and geopolitical conditions, such as Canada and the US. ‘Identifying and evaluating the value of high-accuracy positioning information and services is an ongoing challenge for spatial and other agencies worldwide, but we’re making great progress in light of current NPI work in Australia, and the Canadian representatives were certainly interested to hear more about this approach. The value proposition for providing real-time access to high-accuracy position information nationally was of particular interest given the many diverse industries that are increasingly reliant on these services.’

After the technical and policy sessions concluded in North America, Grant hopped over the Atlantic to visit Leica Geosystems in Heerbrugg, Switzerland. Leica provide training and support to Grant on the GNSS network software and receivers that contribute to his research and to the industry positioning networks that he evaluates. He toured the factory where Leica manufactures and assembles their geodetic grade equipment, and met with business development representatives along with product and marketing managers whilst viewing the latest GNSS product range. Given the Swiss company’s presence in the Australian positioning market, Grant saw this tour as beneficial towards plans to increase coordination of existing and future positioning infrastructure across the nation and to further strengthen research collaboration.

Grant returned home with a range of positive feedback and ideas from his presentations and a host of expert contacts from leading Government and industry representatives worldwide. ‘There’s a lot of interest in Australia’s leadership for developing a consolidated ground network. We’re finally bringing everyone into the room to work together. Geodetic infrastructure both nationally and globally often goes “unseen”, so it can be hard to demonstrate the face value of that investment, but we’re working hard to promote the diverse and significant benefits across many sectors of the economy including transport, mining, engineering, agriculture, finance, meteorology and defence.’

Further information on the value of Precise Positioning to a range of Australian sectors is available from ACIL Allen Consulting.

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