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A key piece of the network that will deliver more accurate and reliable GNSS positioning across New Zealand and Australia is fast taking shape near Invercargill.

Two 11-metre satellite dishes have just been hoisted into place at the uplink and ground control centre being constructed at Awarua, Southland.

The centre is one of two across the SouthPAN (Southern Positioning Augmentation Network) network being built for the New Zealand and Australian Governments. The first opened at Uralla, New South Wales, in December 2023.

At least six high-tech jobs will be created in Southland to operate the Awarua centre, due for completion by mid-2024.

SouthPAN is a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS). It uses a network of space-based and ground infrastructure to compare satellite data against precisely measured positions and identify and correct positioning errors in global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) like GPS.

These corrections are sent to geostationary satellites and broadcast throughout New Zealand, Australia and our maritime zones.

SouthPAN will improve the accuracy of GPS from the current 5-10 metres down to as little as 10 centimetres, supporting businesses and industries that rely on precise location data.

The new infrastructure will improve the availability of the SouthPAN early open services offered since September 2022. The New Zealand and Australian sites will work in tandem to provide network resilience.

SouthPAN will support precision farming and improve safety in industries like construction where virtual barriers can help protect workers from heavy machinery.

Forestry operators are currently using SouthPAN for inventory mapping, harvesting and worker safety. It is helping crop sprayers with more accurate aerial application of fertiliser.

By 2028 when SouthPAN is expected to be fully operational, it will enable helicopters and planes to fly safely in poor weather they cannot fly in now.

SouthPAN is a partnership between Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and Geoscience Australia. Economic benefits to New Zealand from SouthPAN are estimated at $864 million over 20 years.

Read more about SouthPAN

Photo of two SouthPAN satellite dishes at Awarua, Invercargill

The 11-metre SouthPAN satellite dishes at Awarua, Invercargill. Credit: Lockheed Martin

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