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IALA Workshop attendees

IALA Workshop attendees

IALA workshop on the future of Marine Radiobeacon

International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN), through its MENAS arm, attended an important The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) workshop on the future of Marine Radio beacons: Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) and Differential Global Navigational Satellite Systems (DGNSS) in Edinburgh at the end of January 2020.

The workshop, which was attended by Authorities, industrial members, ship navigation/satellite systems experts and service providers, attracted a total of 49 participants from 22 countries. It examined the lifecycle of DGNSS and looked at where the technology currently sits in its lifespan. The obligations of each contracting government under Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) rules were discussed with particular reference to chapter V of regulation 13.

Representatives from the workshop groups together with DGNSS service providers said they were facing difficulties in continuing their services with the ageing equipment they had, much of which will require large future investment. How and to what extent this investment will take place is in some cases, yet to be decided. However, several have already discontinued their DGNSS services while others have upgraded their equipment. Consequently, the workshop agreed that IALA should consider:

  • encouraging IALA members to ensure that GNSS integrity information is provided in their area of responsibility
  • encouraging IALA members who discontinue their DGNSS services, to seek alternative ways of informing mariners, in a clear and timely manner, if GNSS becomes unreliable
  • identifying alternative new and innovative ways of providing GNSS integrity information to mariners and find ways to speed up their development, including harmonised maritime GNSS user integrity algorithms; encouraging the development of Multi-System Radio MSR test specification and its introduction on all vessels; and introducing R-Mode and other solutions for mitigating GNSS vulnerabilities
  • how best to co-ordinate this work with other international bodies to achieve globally harmonised solutions

Taking into consideration these points and other concerns raised at the workshop, a draft guideline was produced and forwarded to the Policy Advisory Panel (PAP), AtoN Requirements & Management (ARM) and Engineering (ENG) committees for further development. IALA World Wide Academy Dean Omar Erickson told participants that he was expecting the majority of providers were going to discontinue the DGNSS service but realised that only a few are discontinuing the service at this time.

Future of MENAS DGPS services in the Gulf
As a result of the discussions and based on the outcome of this important and successful workshop, the IFAN board has decided to continue providing, and to upgrade where necessary, the DGPS services operated by its subsidiary MENAS in the Middle Eastern Gulf Area. This investment will ensure MENAS continues to provide free-to-air integrity service for all mariners in the region for the enhancement of the safety of navigation.