Forget everything you knew about geo-localisation

Source: M. (Maroš) Sefčovič i, published on Friday, December 16 2016.

It's hard to imagine life in 2016 without satellite geo-localisation signals. We do not see them but they are serving as the backbone of so many services which have become essential for modern life; pulling out cash from an ATM, using a driving navigation systems, landing a plane, or using any location-based mobile apps.


Half of the existing mobile apps are already using localisation and the number is likely to grow, as by 2020 we expect some 150 billion 'things' to be connected to the Internet.

In fact, CNN journalists tried to imagine a scenario in which satellites stop functioning and the result was complete chaos.

/commission/file/what-space-war-might-look-ground_enWhat a space war might look like on the ground

Video of What a space war might look like on the ground

Video Description

Now let's try the opposite exercise. Instead of imagining our lives without geo-localisation services, try to think what life would look like if our existing technologies were suddenly enhanced, boosted, and outperformed themselves. We could imagine personal assistants to the physically impaired leading them from one room to another, autonomous cars parking perfectly or humanitarian aid could being sent from above, distinguishing between two opposite buildings.

In fact, the new generation of geo-localisation started today, as we just launched the initial services of #Galileo, the EU Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS) that provides radio signals for position, navigation and timing purposes. It is very much similar to the American GPS, except that when completed (in 2020), Galileo will provide free public service which will be 10 times more precise than the most precise geo-localisation signals currently available: It will shift us from 10 meters to 1 meter precision level! Galileo will also provide services to public authorities and commercial companies that will be even more precise.

So if GPS brought you to the train station, Galileo will bring you to your actual train (if not your seat). Of course, these are only first few examples which jump to mind.

The next exciting phase would be for developers, entrepreneurs, investors to make use of the new Galileo technologies, to find how the new satellites signals can enable their new apps, services, technologies and business models.

It's up to them to see how Galileo can push further the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The last Galileo Hackathon in Berlin showed how far the new Galileo-based services could actually go when our brightest minds are put to it!

The launch of Galileo's initial services was made possible after long years of preparation, the last of which was the launch into space of four Galileo satellites into space from French Guyana last month. It is also a core aspect of Europe's new space strategy which we presented in October.

/commission/file/launch-4-eu-galileo-satellites-360-virtual-reality_enLaunch of the 4 EU Galileo satellites in 360 virtual reality

Video of Launch of the 4 EU Galileo satellites in 360 virtual reality

Video Description

The next three years will be crucial as they will allow anyone to prepare, experiment, and test with Galileo, until the full service is provided in 2020. I therefore encourage your sense of pioneer, and invite you to start developing the first high-precision geo-localisation services - based on Galileo.

Want to know more about how Galileo can enhance your business, sector, or industry? Have technical questions? There are several things you can do.

The new Use Galileo website provides the latest list of devices which currently support Galileo in a range of fields; including transport, mapping, agriculture, mobile apps, and even humanitarian aid.

Our colleagues at the European GNSS Agency will be glad to provide you with further information. You can contact them directly or post your question on their LinkedIn Group, in the spirit of transparency (and cost-effectiveness) where we can all join the discussion. Or use the helpdesk of the Galileo service Center managed by the GSA:

And even if you're not working in any of the relevant industries, and simply would like to enjoy the enhanced signals of Galileo on your mobile device, I encourage you to ensure your next device is "Galileo-friendly". There are already many devices whose chipset is compatible, including Spanish-made BQ phones.

The future just started. We are building it in Europe.