Vice President Matt Higgins attends Munich Satellite Navigation Summit

Munich, Germany, 19-21 February 2008

The Munich Satellite Summit really is a “Summit”, in that it deals with the latest developments but does so with a focus on the policy aspects. As such the Summit is a quite unique format. It also has the advantage of attracting senior decision makers, making it an ideal event for high level networking. The Sessions in the Summit are structured as "Panels" where speakers give short explanations of the status of their topic and then form a panel that is questioned by the Session Chair. This format works well as a way of drawing out issues that need to be explained and which may need some attention in terms of policy and planning.

In the Summit program, there were many excellent presentations on latest status and policy developments relating to all the major providers of GNSS, including the EU, USA, Russia, India, Japan and China. There were also presentations on applications, products, services and issues ranging from the expected performance of next generation systems through education, research and certification to the current worldwide boom in personal navigation devices. The Summit program was as follows (see

  • Tuesday 19 February:
    • Opening Plenary
  • Wednesday 20 February:
    • Session 1: GNSS Program Updates
    • Session 2: Munich Flashlights - News from Bavaria
    • Session 3: Galileo Guarantees of Service and Certification
    • Session 4: Boom in Personal Navigation and GNSS Handheld Devices - Without Galileo?
    • Session 5: Education, Research & Innovation in Satellite Navigation in Europe
    • Session 6: New GNSS Product and Service Announcements
  • Thursday 21 February:
    • Session 7: GNSS Activities of the Asian Pacific Rim
    • Session 8: GPS Activities in North America - View on Galileo from over the Atlantic
    • Session 9: Directions for the Galileo Evolution
    • Session 10: Galileo On Track Again - Presentation and Discussion
    • Session 11: What Characteristics, Quality of Data & Service Can We Expect from Next Generation of GNSS Satellites?

Matt Higgins has prepared a more detailed report that is not intended to go into detail on each session but gives a few highlights that are worth mentioning. Note that all presentations from the Summit are now available on the web site but usernames and passwords have been issued to attendees to limit access to the full presentations.

The dominant issue at last year's Summit was the problem with the Public Private Partnership for Galileo, which is Europe's Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). This year the mood was much more optimistic with the clear message being that "Galileo is Back on Track". The delivery of that message began in the opening Plenary Session of the Summit. Paul Verhoef, the Head of the Galileo Unit in the European Commission (EC) gave a very “straight talking" speech acknowledging that Galileo had been through a difficult phase with the failure of the PPP approach but also pointing out that it was now getting back on track. A significant aspect of the renewed approach to developing Galileo is that the European Space Agency (ESA) will build the system from In-Orbit Validation (IOV) through Deployment Phase (commencing in 2009) until Full Operational Capability (FOC) is reached in 2013. It might be that at that time a private partner is found to operate the system. Another issue is that there is considerable speculation over the need for the GNSS Supervisory Authority in its present form, given that a significant part of its purpose was management of the now abandoned PPP.

Paul made a point of saying that the 3.4 billion Euros being allocated is all that will be available for the period from 2009 to 2013. It will need to cover the procurement of Galileo system components, the space based augmentation systems EGNOS, the fees for ESA and the operational costs for the EC. It is expected that the European Parliament will pass the Galileo regulation in April that will give the legal framework allowing Galileo to proceed. The procurement of Galileo will be in six work packages: satellites, launches, ground mission, ground control, operations and systems support. It has also been decided that any given company can only take part in two of the six work packages.

Paul also commented that the EC felt that international relations in GNSS needed to focus on compatibility and interoperability and that the UN International Committee on GNSS (UN ICG) was a good forum for that.

Etelka Barsi-Pataky (Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism and Rapporteur for Galileo) also spoke in the Opening Plenary and supported Paul’s comments on the need to ensure that the funding is properly managed now that it has been secured. She commented on the fact that Galileo is a major community infrastructure and needs common will across the EU. Another issue outlined was that once the potential private partners formed one consortium the Parliament was not able to agree to a PPP that was effectively a monopoly. She also commented that such a high technology project as Galileo brought significant risk and so it was no surprise that all other major GNSS are publicly funded.

The technical sessions are described in Matt Higgins' report.

UN Mandated International Committee on GNSS (ICG)

Matt Higgins also met out of session with Ruth Neilan (Director of the International GNSS Service (IGS) - based at NASA in California) and Chris Rizos (Vice President of the International Association of Geodesy – based at University of New South Wales). The meeting was to discuss Working Group D of the UN mandated International Committee on GNSS (ICG). Working Group D on "Interaction with national and regional authorities and relevant international organizations" is Co-Chaired by John Dow and Ruth (for IGS/IAG) and by Matt Higgins (for FIG). The Working Group is charged with tasks such as standards for GNSS reference stations, investigating mitigation of radio interference and multi-path at such stations and fostering the rejuvenation of geodetic reference frames in developing countries (like the AFREF project in Africa). It is likely that Ruth and Matt will meet again at the FIG Working Week in Stockholm in June 2008. We will then take a progress report and any follow up recommended actions to the next meeting of the full ICG, which is to be hosted by Ruth at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California in December 2008.

Read more: Report on Munich Satellite Navigation Summit 2008, February 2008 by Matt Higgins, Principal Survey Advisor, Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water and Vice President FIG as a .pdf-file

Matt Higgins
FIG Vice President
10 April 2008