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Passenger, goods and vehicle location is vital to ensure the development of more intelligent, optimised and more environmentally-friendly mobility.

The services and technologies which collect and process this data are developing rapidly and aim to facilitate access to geographical positions anywhere and anytime, concepts specialists call geopositioning or geolocation.

Location solutions

Solutions based on satellite tracking play a vital role in this. Satellite signals make it possible to instantly estimate the position of a received, usually with sufficient accuracy (to the metre or less) and with little cost for a large nubmer of applications almost anywhere, anytime. In order to do this, the mobile receiver must be directly visible to at least four geolocation satellites. This can be difficult in some environments such as urban corridors, forests or mountainous areas which make it difficult or even impossible (in tunnels for example) to receive signals.

Other location solutions can be used by intelligent transport systems on their own or in addition to satellite based location solutions (we then speak about hybrid location systems), in order to compensate for the lack of satellite signals in certain areas.

These systems mainly include short-range wireless technologies (RFID, ULB, differential GPS) or triangulation positioning on cellular communications networks (GSM or 3G) or on local networks (WiFi for example).

There are also other location solutions based on "dead reckoning" using sensors integrated into mobile units (e.g. Inertial unit, odometer, gyrometer).

These complementary technologies make it possible to increase location accuracy, the coverage area (deteriorations in external environments, location within buildings etc.) and the user’s assessment of the reliability of the information on the position given.

The success of satellite-based solutions is facilitated

by the deployment of global systems (notably the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS and the European GALILEO systems) offering permnent, interoperable global satellite navigation coverage, as well as the progress made in terms of on-board mobile terminals (multi-constellation, multi-frequency) and communication systems (e.g.

GSM/GPRS/3G, Bluetooth, WiFi).

Location applied to intelligent transport

A growing number of solutions and services based on satellite positioning alone or using several complementary location solutions in a hybrid system have been developed in the transport sector.

Some examples:

  • tracking the transport of dangerous materials (see the SCUTUM project)
  • tracking maritime transport (see the MARGAL project)
  • tracking river transport (see the SINAFE project)


  • cooperative mobility (see the CoVel and POMA projects)

European research is highly active in the field of satellite technology, notably GNSS receivers as shown in the list of research projects funded under the European Commission’s 6th and 7th Framework Programmes for research.

It is usually vital that the geographical position is entered into a geographic information system. It is therefore essential that in order to ensure coherence and interoperability that this position is calculated using a common geodetic reference system, in France this is RGF93. State and local authorities, as well as the companies responsible for providing public services are now obliged to transfer geographical data under this system.

For more information

For more information see:

gateway on satellite navigation

- the website of theIGN on the geodetic system