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SouthPAN: Pioneering GNSS Precision for New Zealand and Australia

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New Zealand’s space industry has been rapidly advancing, leveraging its unique geographic advantages and partnerships with other countries, such as Australia. Within this dynamic landscape, both countries have made the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) project, representing a significant milestone in Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology, to transform positioning accuracy and reliability across New Zealand and Australia.

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Located near Invercargill, this project is rapidly progressing, marked by the recent installation of two expansive 11-metre satellite dishes at the Awarua ground control centre. Working alongside its Uralla, New South Wales counterpart, this facility forms a robust network to bolster GNSS precision and dependability throughout the region.

SouthPAN’s strategic location near Invercargill is crucial, as it is poised to enhance the overall GNSS infrastructure in the region significantly. Installing the two large satellite dishes at the Awarua ground control centre underscores the project’s progress and commitment to delivering unparalleled positioning accuracy and reliability to users across New Zealand and Australia.

The collaboration between the Awarua and Uralla centres signifies a concerted effort to establish a comprehensive GNSS network that will meet the region’s current needs and anticipate and adapt to future demands. Using advanced Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS), SouthPAN aims to compare satellite data with precise ground measurements to identify and rectify positioning errors within GPS and other GNSS systems. This innovative approach is poised to enhance GPS accuracy from the current range of 5-10 metres to an impressive 10 centimetres, a significant improvement that will benefit many industries and applications.

In addition to the technical advancements, the SouthPAN project is set to create a positive economic impact in the region. The construction and operation of the Awarua ground control centre will generate at least six high-tech jobs in Southland, further underscoring the project’s commitment to local economic development.

Looking ahead, the completion of SouthPAN in 2028 is expected to revolutionise aviation safety, enabling helicopters and planes to operate safely in poor weather conditions where they currently cannot fly. This transformative project is a collaboration between Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and Geoscience Australia, with estimated economic benefits to New Zealand totalling $864 million over 20 years.

In conclusion, the SouthPAN project represents a significant leap forward in GNSS technology, promising more accurate and reliable positioning capabilities across New Zealand and Australia. Its completion will enhance safety and efficiency across various industries and deliver substantial economic benefits to the region.

With the advancements in GNSS technology brought about by the SouthPAN project, several industries are poised to benefit significantly. One such industry is agriculture, where precise positioning information is crucial for crop spraying and field mapping activities. Farmers can more effectively manage their operations with improved GPS accuracy, leading to increased yields and reduced environmental impact.

The forestry sector is also set to benefit from the enhanced GNSS capabilities offered by SouthPAN. Forestry companies rely on accurate positioning data for inventory mapping and harvesting activities. With SouthPAN’s improved accuracy, these companies can optimise their operations, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

The construction industry is another sector that can gain from the SouthPAN project. Construction projects require precise positioning information for site planning and equipment placement. With SouthPAN’s improved GPS accuracy, construction companies can improve project efficiency and reduce the likelihood of costly errors.

The transportation sector is also expected to benefit from SouthPAN’s enhanced GNSS capabilities. Transport companies rely on accurate positioning data for route planning and vehicle tracking tasks. With SouthPAN’s improved accuracy, transport companies can improve the efficiency of their operations, leading to reduced travel times and fuel consumption.

Overall, the SouthPAN project is poised to revolutionise GNSS technology in New Zealand and Australia, offering improved accuracy and reliability across various industries. With its completion expected in 2028, the project is set to deliver significant economic and technological benefits to the region, positioning both countries as leaders in GNSS technology.


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