Galileo will ensure Europe's independence in a sector that has become critical for its economy and the well-being of its citizens.
It is worth noting that it is not only the United States (GPS) who has constructed its own GNSS (global navigation satellite system). Other countries are also developing their own GNSS and Europe should not be left out in the cold. A scenario where European business is unable to benefit from the multiple economic, environmental, innovative, research and employment opportunities offered by Europe having its very own satellite navigation system is not desirable.
GPS (US), GLONASS (Russia) and the other regional systems developed by Japan and China are military systems under military control – indeed they provide a civil service but that civil service could be either switched off or made less precise when desired e.g. in case of conflict.
We have become so dependent on services provided by satellite navigation in our daily lives that should a service be reduced or switched off, the potential disruption to business, banking, transport, aviation, communication etc. to name but a few, would be very costly (e.g. in terms of revenues for business, road safety etc.).
With Galileo, Europe is also able to exploit the opportunities provided by satellite navigation to a much greater extent than otherwise possible. Galileo will help Europe maintain and develop its know-how in the space, receivers and applications sectors, securing economic revenues and jobs. Independent surveys and market forecasting indicate that this and the externalities in terms of public utility (new applications making transport more effective, better road management, traffic less polluting, rescue operations more effective etc.) are worth up to 90 billion euros over the first twenty years.
The combination of Galileo and GPS signals in dual receivers will open the door to new applications that require a higher level of precision than currently available with GPS alone. This includes for example applications to guide the blind, to increase the success rate of rescue operations in the mountains, to monitor the whereabouts of people suffering from Alzheimers' Disease, etc.
In addition, Galileo will improve the overall availability and coverage of GNSS signals. For example, the higher number of satellites will improve the availability of the signals in high rise cities where buildings can obstruct signals from satellites that are low on the horizon. Thanks to the location and inclination of the satellites, Galileo will achieve a better coverage at high latitudes than other systems, which is particularly interesting for northern Europe, an area currently not very well covered by GPS.
Galileo in short: precision, availability, coverage
- Precision: In a combined GPS-Galileo use (compared to GPS by itself) the higher number of satellites available to the user will offer higher precision. From most locations, six to eight Galileo satellites will be visible which, in combination with GPS signals, will allow positions to be determined up to within a few centimetres, depending on the service used.
- Availability: The high number of satellites will also improve the availability of the signals in high-rise cities, where buildings can obstruct signals from satellites that are low on the horizon.
- Coverage: Galileo will also provide a better coverage at high latitudes than GPS, thanks to the location and inclination of the satellites. This will be particularly interesting for Northern Europe.