The Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) identified the need to determine precise locations on the ground for use with Earth observation images and ancillary information in geographical information systems. This location information is needed for a large number of remote sensing applications, some of which support such strategic areas for development as disaster management, monitoring and protecting the environment, management of natural resources and food production. With the availability of high-resolution images, some applications will require a location precision of the order of one meter. The Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), which include the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States of America, provide a signal that can serve this purpose and in addition could be used for a large range of other applications with economic benefits for the user.
A series of five regional Workshops, co-sponsored by the United Nations Programme on Space Applications and the Government of the United States of America, are being organized. The workshops will focus on specific applications of the use of existing and near-term GNSS and their augmentations to further global environment objectives, sustainable development programmes and deepen the understanding of these applications in developing countries. Such global systems include the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States of America, Glonass of the Russian Federation and Galileo of European Community countries. Applications will include monitoring of the environment, precision agriculture, surveying and mapping, resource conservation, and disaster management.
The first regional United Nations/United States of America Workshop on the Use of Global Navigation Satellite Systems was held in Malaysia in August 2001 for countries in Asia and the Pacific, followed by this second one held in Vienna, Austria, from 26 to 30 November 2001 for the benefit of countries in Eastern Europe. The third regional workshop will be held in Santiago, Chile, from 1 to 5 April 2002 for the benefit of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fourth Workshop will be held in Lusaka, Zambia during July 2002 for the benefit of countries in Africa.
The conclusions and recommendations of all the regional workshops will be reviewed by a group of experts at an international meeting which will take place in Vienna, Austria, toward the end of 2002 for possible further action.