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Spatial data enables movement indoors and outdoors in future

Research on positioning and navigation methods is essential to enable the digitalisation of public services and functions.

New technologies are being developed both in satellite and indoor positioning. Finland will be the meeting place for international top experts in the field, when the 24th European Navigation Conference is organised in Helsinki on 30 May–2 June.

– Finland's aim is to be a pioneer of the Mobility as a Service concept, where a user can select a customised and the most effective method of travel from one place to another. To accomplish this, precise and reliable spatial data is crucial. In addition, new methods of utilising spatial data are needed to create new business opportunities in the transport sector, stated Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner in her introductory speech at the conference on Tuesday 31 May.

The precision of satellite positioning is improved with the help of new technologies. The Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) at the National Land Survey has founded and maintains a network of 20 GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) reference stations that receive observation data from several GNSS, such as the United States based GPS and the European Galileo system. The reference stations then forward the observation data to users, who can use it to correct satellite positioning errors, meaning an accuracy of 0.5 metres instead of the ordinary 5 metres for spatial data.

– In smart traffic systems, for example, the 0.5 metre accuracy enables positioning at a sufficient precision to permit the selection of lanes and parking spaces, which opens up new business opportunities, says Professor Heidi Kuusniemi.

Indoor positioning demands its own technology

There is a need for accurate positioning even indoors, for example to locate a meeting room in an office building or a particular store in a shopping centre. In addition, rescue services need to find the person who needs help quickly. Satellite positioning does not work indoors, which is why other technologies are needed.

At FGI at the National Land Survey, studies have been made into how motion sensors and cameras can be used to follow the movements of rescue personnel. In this way it would be possible to locate them in real time without disturbing the rescue operation.

New indoor positioning methods are created at an increasing pace, but there is as yet no system available that would work indoors in all situations in the same way that satellite positioning does outdoors.

More information:

Päivi Antikainen, Director of Unit, Ministry of transport and communications, 050 382 7101,

Professor, Head of Department Heidi Kuusniemi, Finnish Geospatial Research Institute at the National Land Survey, 040 653 2228,

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