By John Wilde
We have the United States GPS Industry Council, the Japan GPS Council, and the Korean GNSS Technology Council.
The challenges facing the performance, navigation, and timing (PNT) community, which relies on GNSS amongst other things, are getting more numerous and complex, and Europe is the only major territory without a unified industry nexus where such challenges can be engaged. However, this is about to change.
From my background and current activity as CEO of DW International, an independent navigation consultancy with a strong interest in GNSS specifically, I have begun forming the European PNT Industry Council (EPIC) with other industry leaders to act as a focal point for the PNT community’s concerns and to help coordinate the effort for standardization and harmonization. Additionally, with issues such as the LightSquared debacle looming, it is key that European stakeholders have a voice on the global stage.
A recent survey that the nascent EPIC conducted jointly with Marketing Analytics highlighted the need for an organization such as EPIC. We asked key PNT figures around the globe about the issues concerning them and how these concerns should be addressed by EPIC. For such a diverse group of respondents (including representatives from state transport agencies, academic institutions, OEMs, independent consultancies, land survey companies, maritime, and aviation) there was clear agreement on the need for a European focal point for PNT to better facilitate interoperability and harmonization of standards among the current PNT activities being undertaken around the world. Sixty-six percent of respondents wanted an international forum for information exchange (that is, ideas, best practices, and lessons learned) where such issues as interoperability and harmonization could be addressed.
Sixty-three percent rated system-level PNT policy issues as a very important subject area for EPIC, while 56 percent rated standards for PNT in areas such as aviation, rail, and E112 as being very important. There is no shortage of issues to tackle, and EPIC will prove to be a key player in forming the coalitions required.
As one respondent put it, when asked about his priorities regarding PNT policy:
- Galileo launch schedule;
- Compass CPII and CPIII signal details and operational plans;
- Information about GLONASS L3 and GLONASS CDMA plans, particularly ICD and frequency of planned L1 CDMA signal;
- SBAS plans, such as EGNOS and GAGAN;
- European regulatory plans that relate to navigation and positioning; E112, road user charging, tracking and logistics;
- Standards for navigation and positioning applications, plus applications that rely on a position.
Whatever the appeal of a forum for the exchange of technical knowledge amongst professionals, it was also clear that respondents wanted EPIC to take action as well. One wrote:
“EPIC needs to be outcome/results oriented and not turn into a talkfest. Therefore issues such as LightSquared need to be addressed head on so that bureaucrats start listening to the science behind decisions and policies rather than commercially driven for short-term political expediency.”
Indeed, EPIC joined the chorus of organizations writing directly to the FCC calling for a rethink of the LightSquared issue.
I personally believe that with the industry councils active in the United States and Asia, EPIC is the third leg of the stool. PNT is such a dynamic world, with so many moving parts, that even large international organizations risk being left behind unless their interests are represented and the information they need is available in a consistent and practical fashion.
But more than that, PNT is a utility that needs to be protected, maintained, enhanced, and utilized. EPIC will ensure that those who want to, can.
The need is there. The stakeholders are there. It’s happening.