Mar 10

Galileo Application Days - present and future of European GNSS

The conference offered both plenary sessions on the challenges and opportunities of GNSS and specific parallel sessions focused on market segments and the related applications.
Having had the possibility to follow the whole conference, it appeared clear that some key issues and trends emerged over and over through the sessions. It is worth summarizing them as they will represent the challenges and/or opportunities of the next years.

First of all, with reference to the LBS market segment, one of the most relevant, location is the fundamental requirement today. According to users' needs and behaviors, location comes first (where am I?), then comes search (is there anything interesting around or near me?) and in the end navigation (how do I get there?), which more and more implies many means of transportation: foot, car, public transport, ... This also brings us to the concept of multimodal mobility. More people need to travel using (and mixing) different means of transportation and this implies the development of info mobility applications and the integration of the related information from different sources.

Nowadays, with more and more applications in the market and considering how many multinationals and SMEs have invested on GNSS, it is amazing to realize that business models still represent a question mark. Where do revenues come from and who is willing to pay for what? In a 2.0 world, where the key concept seems to be that of "freemium", the definition of an innovative and successful business model is critical and this is particularly true in mass market segments.

As Mr Lorimer said it best "Accuracy is addictive" and in a few years (or months?) even consumers will be asking for high precision accuracy in their mobile phones. This does once more present the outdoor/indoor signal coverage issue and experts don't agree on the role of Galileo in solving the problem. The European GNSS will for sure bring an improved coverage in critical areas (urban canyons and indoor), however most experts believe the problem will be solved only through the integration of GNSS with other technologies, like wifi, motion sensors, cell-ID, ...

The challenge of Galileo today is to make sure it is the second satellite navigation system in handsets and devices, as the GNSS will be a multi-signal system.
A good summary of the challenges of GNSS and Galileo in the next years is represented by what Gian Gherardo Calini, Head of the Market Development Department of the GSA, said as he wrapped up the plenary session "Battle of the sectors".
Everyone actively involved in the GNSS and interested in further supporting its development should:

  • continue to invest in R&D, however trying to stay closer to the market, its customers and their needs (it's now time to work on marketable applications, rather than on pure R&D);
  • work even more on awareness at different levels (with final users, B2B players, developers, politicians, ...) and disseminate strong knowledge (now mostly based on concrete and successful case studies);
  • accelerate the development of the market, by clearly showing the benefits related to GNSS (EGNOS is there, EDAS is getting close to the end of its beta test, the European GNSS is not an idea anymore, European companies should take advantage of this technology instead of leaving all the benefits to other continents).