Locating the Business of GNSS

Locating the Business of GNSS


There is significant regional variation in GNSS penetration in terms of devices per capita, but the uptake of smartphones in emerging markets will change the situation in almost every corner of the world

GNSS is used around the globe, with 3.6 billion GNSS devices in use in 2014. By 2019, this is forecast to increase to over 7 billion, with an average of one device per person on the planet. According to a new Market Report from the European GNSS Agency, smartphones continue to dominate (3.08 billion in 2014), being the most popular platform to access location-based services, followed by devices used for road applications (0.26 billion). Other devices may be less numerous, but billions of passengers, professionals, consumers and citizens worldwide benefit from their application in efficient and safe transport networks, productive and sustainable Locating the Business of GNSS There is significant regional variation in GNSS penetration in terms of devices per capita, but the uptake of smartphones in emerging markets will change the situation in almost every corner of the world agriculture, surveying, and critical infrastructures.

The report delves into the market opportunities, technology trends and future developments of GNSS, as well as highlights the benefits that GNSS offers to the economy, including job creation and promoting innovation.

The primary region of global market growth will be Asia-Pacific, which is forecast to grow 11% per annum from 1.7 billion in 2014 to 4.2 billion devices in 2023 — more than the EU and North America combined. The installed base in the mature regions of EU28 and North America will grow steadily (8% per annum) through 2023. The Middle East and Africa will grow at the fastest rate (19% p.a.), but starting from a low base. As a result, the ‘digital divide’ is forecast to narrow. Although there is significant regional variation in GNSS penetration in terms of devices per capita, the up-take of smartphones in emerging regions will change the situation in almost every corner of the world.

Environment of relevant macro trends

Smart cities: In 2014, 54% of the world’s population lived in urban areas, and it is predicted that by 2050 this will increase to 66%. In the largest 500 European cities, more than 200 million people are constantly moving from one place to another and want to find the quickest and easiest way to do so. The smart cities concept tackles this challenge. An intelligent urban management approach covering various utilities (e.g. transport, energy, water, waste…) can contribute to making cities more sustainable and allow for more effective and efficient management of them. Thanks to its easy implementation for various smart mobility and LBS applications, GNSS is supporting the smart cities concept. Especially when implemented in a hybrid positioning solution, GNSS delivers location information regardless of the environment. Among many others, GNSS can be a part of autonomous driving solutions, travel optimisation and automatic transactions, such as entering a tolled road section or a car park.

Big data: The volume of global data doubles every two years, and data has become a key asset for our economy and societies. ‘Big data’ refers to large amounts of data produced very quickly by diverse sources: geographical, weather, research, transport, energy consumption and health. Data can either be created by people or generated by machines, such as GNSS receivers or Earth Observation satellite imagery. For example: In the Road segment,GNSS-based positioning of vehicles contributes to the production of ‘floating’ car data, a source for traffic modelling and management. Similar applications exist in the LBS segment, with smartphones generating data from positioning information received actions performed by their owners. Notably, the emergence of big data implies a special attention to privacy concerns, mainly related to the use of data by entities such as governments, authorities and commercial companies for purposes beyond that of the original data generation and collection.

Multimodal logistics: GNSSbased solutions are particularly well-suited for on-the-route positioning, enabling operators to monitor goods and assets during their transfer between different transport nodes and hubs. GNSSbased data such as positioning and timing can be combined with information on the status of the container and the cargo, as well as with RFID positioning for asset and goods identification at hubs. This information is transmitted to logistic operators and their clients to improve efficiency and effectiveness of transport activities, as well as to manage emergencies by knowing where to act if anything goes wrong. For many reasons, containers are the optimal target for GNSS in a multimodal perspective. For example, they are widely adopted and their capacity is high enough to invest in a GNSS-based device. Containers are also already equipped with an ISO 6346 BIC code, which identifies the owner and the principal operator.

IoT communication

The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) refers to a major development in the role of the Internet — the interconnectivity of uniquely identifiable devices. Thanks to IPV6, all physical objects can now have a unique address and, thus, communicate. Beyond improving productivity and efficiency of organisations, IoT solutions are changing our daily lives. According to Harbor Research, the global IoT market could hit €1 trillion in 2020 with applications in almost every sector of the economy, from automotive to consumer electronics, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics. As many IoT applications require positioning information of each ‘thing’ (e.g. tracking of luggage, bike, bus, pet, coat), IoT could provide a significant knock-on demand boost for GNSS capabilities in several market segments.

Global GNSS downstream market

The global core GNSS downstream market is forecast to increase by 8.3% annually between 2013 and 2019 before slowing down to 4.6% towards 2023. This means the GNSS downstream market is expected to grow, on average, faster (7%) than the forecast global GDP during this period (6.6%). In 2020, the drop in smartphone prices will offset the growing volumes for the first time, resulting in a decline in total enabled revenues. However, driven by additional applications – especially in the Road segment – total enabled revenues will grow again starting in 2021.

Market by application Applications in the LBS and road segments dominate the cumulative revenue, with a combined total of more than 91%. Smartphone and tablet applications continue to be alternatives to dedicated specific devices (i.e. for road and maritime navigation). The LBS segment progresses further with insurance companies offering smartphone-based insurance telematics and high-end LBS devices with multi-constellation capabilities penetrating the market. It is expected that high-end smartphones will even replace some devices dedicated to professional, high-precision applications.

Major industry actors lead GNSS devices supply

The GNSS downstream industry is characterised by a few very large companies and a plethora of SMEs. The big players in the GNSS industry have embarked on multiple take-overs in recent years, implying consolidation at the top. In 2012, the top five companies by GNSS related turnover accounted for 34% of turnover, and the largest company had 12% of the global market.

A recent GSA study on the GNSS industry estimates the proportion of the market held by companies in each world region based on the companies’ registered headquarters (latest available financial data for 2012). Almost 900 companies active in GNSS have been analysed.

The United States continues to lead, still experiencing the advantage of being the first mover, followed by Japan and Europe. China’s growing GNSS industry is difficult to fully assess due to data limitations, while difficulties estimating Russia’s share come from the fact the GNSS industry there is predominantly state-owned.

Main source of outdoor positioning information

Position information with GNSS technology, most often via the use of smartphones, has become an important part of modern life. GNSS exists in a dynamic, multi-sensor context where the users need a final ubiquitous position, no matter which technology provides it. Still, when considering GNSS in the context of other macro trends and emerging positioning technologies, GNSS remains the main source of outdoor positioning information. There are many general trends regarding GNSS devices:

• Over the past decade improving batteries and power consumption has been the central focus of producers, resulting in the reality of truly portable GNSS device enabling ‘always on’ GNSS positioning.

• Miniaturisation of technology, including GNSS chipsets, is moving towards very small devices attached to high value or sensitive goods, allowing for the tracking of their location throughout the transport chain. The advent of flexible electronics will allow GNSS receivers to be included in clothing and other personal items that could assist in locating lost and stolen items.

• More and more receivers are becoming ‘connected’. One weakness of GNSS has been the time taken for a receiver to acquire (find and lock onto) the satellite signal. This is ameliorated by using assistance data provided over mobile networks, giving the receiver orbital information about the satellites and allowing for a faster location fix to be found.

• Another important trend is that multi-purpose devices with new software applications are replacing dedicated hardware devices within the consumer electronics sector. Increasing convergence of devices and the ability to deliver applications through software instead of dedicated hardware (e.g. smartphone navigation apps in cars replacing PNDs) may counter-balance the proliferation of micro-receivers.

Challenges to location information

The rise in the number of sensors and the collection of data on devices and in objects creates the ‘big data’ reality. Location information is expected to be attached to all data. Privacy concerns remain, but the popularity of social media demonstrates the willingness of consumers to trade privacy and data ownership for functionality and convenience.

How are GNSS chipsets and receivers changing?

• Manufacturers are already equipping their devices with multi- constellation capabilities, taking advantage of available services.

• The evolution of GPS and the introduction of Galileo will lead to more transmission frequencies at higher transmission power, improving availability, robustness, accuracy and urban coverage. • GLONASS is being changed to utilise the CDMA signal access scheme (as are other constellations), improving the interoperability of devices.

• The need for higher accuracy is also motivating receiver manufacturers to offer multi-frequency solutions for professional applications.

Combining sensors improves performance

Complementary positioning techniques – such as cellular network based positioning, Bluetooth beacons and localisation using Wi-Fi base stations – can be combined with GNSS to improve performance. This typically supplements coverage in such challenging environments as urban canyons, reduces time to first position fix (by providing a starting point, albeit less accurate than GNSS), increases accuracy, or simply provides redundancy. More advanced GNSS receivers also use inerial sensors and odometry information to help improve the positioning solution, particularly in adverse environments.