Space provides EU with 'geopolitical, economic and societal opportunities'

Satellite technology will save lives and 'result in one billion working hours being saved', writes Carlo Des Dorides.

By Carlo des Dorides

29 Jan 2015

Space is the industrial revolution of the 21st century, underpinning European industry and day-to-day life. In fact, there is little in society that is not influenced or delivered because of space technology. Importantly, space presents us with significant geopolitical, economic and societal opportunities.

The European global satellite navigation systems agency (GSA) is responsible for translating navigational technology into services that directly benefit the lives of citizens.

European geostationary navigation overlay service (EGNOS) and Galileo satellites are examples of how Europe is using space as a solution. For example, Galileo’s civil nature and its interoperability with global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) constellations means end users will benefit in many ways from more accurate and reliable positioning services. EGNOS provides enhanced services that help improve efficiency and accuracy in the transportation sector.

European GNSS benefits all EU citizens. Some are employed by companies active in the production of GNSS devices, while others work for firms whose products are improved by the GNSS services. Some citizens use GNSS services to make their work more efficient, and many benefit from using GNSS services when navigating by foot with their smartphone in hand or through in-car navigation system.

"With the many user applications that the EGNOS and Galileo satellites offer, our daily lives will become simpler"

To understand the economic potential for European GNSS, it is important to look at the global GNSS market. According to the GSA’s market and technology monitoring process, European companies (EU28 plus Norway and Switzerland) had an estimated 26 per cent share of the global GNSS market in 2012. In components manufacturing, European companies are especially strong in antenna manufacturing, as well as in producing components for the road, rail and aviation sectors. 

Europe is a global leader in systems integration in rail and has a strong presence in the maritime and road sectors. However, Europe performs weakest in the location-based services (LBS) market, where the US is the current global leader. However, LBS presents huge potential for Europe.

There is an enormous opportunity for application developers and value-added services where small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups can bring innovation. The experience of EU GNSS research and development (R&D) projects proves SMEs are especially strong in applications for fleet management, vehicle tracking and recreation.

LBS is by far the largest market for GNSS. Over the past five years, global shipments of GNSS enabled LBS devices have grown from 300 million to one billion. In order to better access this market, Europe needs Galileo.

The total cost for the Galileo programme - from design to development, deployment, exploitation and maintenance - comes out at about €50 per EU citizen. For this, EU citizens will see long-term tangible benefits in many areas - from safety to smart phones, from cars and flights to rail transport - everyone benefits from European GNSS.

"The total cost for the Galileo programme […] comes out at about €50 per EU citizen"

With the many applications that the EGNOS and Galileo satellites offer, our lives will become simpler. Getting from one place to another becomes easier and the amount of time spent on specific tasks is reduced. Based on a recent analysis, between 2015 and 2025 it is estimated that 120,000 flights will not be diverted and 33,000 not cancelled thanks to EGNOS and Galileo. This will result in one billion working hours being saved, the equivalent of over 100,000 years.

European GNSS is also good for the environment, allowing for efficiencies and thus decreasing fuel consumption. As a result, between 2015 and 2025, Galileo and EGNOS will reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 20,000 tonnes. Together, EGNOS and Galileo will also save 7000 tonnes of pesticides, 2.2 million tonnes of fertiliser and 4.5 billion litres of fuel.

Finally, EGNOS and Galileo save lives. Thanks to services such as the new e-Call system, it is estimated that over the next decade European GNSS will contribute to saving over 4500 lives.

By investing in European GNSS and related R&D programmes, we are creating European competences in space and the ability to develop space infrastructure that opens the door to new industries and markets, supporting innovation and ensuring the advancement of Europe.


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