Sunday, March 13, 2011

Australia's Heavy Reliance on Satellite Positioning Technology

In the recent weeks, there has been quite a lot of news regarding global reliance on the GPS System. In Australia, there have been articles in the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as discussion about the threat from GPS jamming from the ABC and The Australia. But Perhaps the most interesting article has come from Jonathon Amos at the BBC who has examined the value of GPS to Europe.

In Jonathon's article, he highlights two reports, one from the European Commission's Midterm Review of the European Satellite Navigation Programmes Galileo and EGNOS, as well as a report from the Space Policy Institute of George Washington University.

In the article, there are two key phrases about the total economic dependence on Satellite Navigation. For the European Union:

  "It is estimated that currently 6-7% of GDP of developed countries, €800bn in Europe, depends on satellite navigation."
and for the United States:

The GW study estimated the combined contribution of these sectors to US GDP to be $1,342bn, or about 9.5% of GDP in 2009. This was deemed to be a conservative assessment.

This got me thinking about how dependent the Australian economy would be to Satellite Navigation and Positioning technology, and what percentage of GDP this would represent.

So I decided to follow the same economic assumptions that led to European Assessment, to see what this would represent in Australia. This is where I got the % reliance of each sector from.

For my economic numbers I used the Australian Bureau of Statistics latest "Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product" for the December Quarter. Page 65 for the Annual Numbers.

Delivery Services (Transport, postal and warehousing in Australian numbers) - $61.3 Billion @ 100% contribution = $61.3 Billion
Utilities (Electricity, gas, water and waste services in Australian numbers) - $25.9 Billion @ 60% = $15.54 Billion
Banking and Financial (Financial and insurance services in Australian numbers)- $131.9  Billion @ 35% = $46.165 Billion
Agriculture (Agriculture in Australian numbers) - $23.6 Billion @ 10% = $2.36 Billion
Communications (Information media and telecommunications in Australian numbers) - $38.9 Billion @ 10% = $3.89 Billion

So in total, I came up with a figure of $129.55 Billion, which would represent a total of 10.1% of the Australian GDP of $1,283.8Bn. And this does NOT take into account any reliance of the mining industry in Australia, which was worth $121Bn in 2009-10, which has clear reliance upon satellite positioning technology.

An absolutely astonishing figure, and one that needs real attention from the Space Policy Unit in their current development of the National Space Policy.

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