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HIVE. Does everyone really need their own reference station?

How we used principles of shared economy to build a state GNSS infrastructure project from scratch.

In this article, we will show you how an unseen market opportunity may lead to creating a product with a disruptive business model. While reading this, keep asking yourself: Will it work in my case? Could I use this solution if it would exist in my area? And don’t hesitate to leave your feedback here.

Psst… Do you want some communism?

In 2010 everybody was talking about collaborative consumption.

“Why don’t you rent the drill, if it will be used around 12 to 15 minutes in its entire lifetime? Because what you need is the hole, not the drill” — the famous quote says.

There were already hundreds of startups trying to follow the rules of sharing economy. Along with eco-marketing trend and growing online networks, “sharing the power drill” became mainstream.

Back in 2010 in Russia, the concept of shared economy wasn’t wide-used among businesses. Despite the fact that the country lived in a collaborative consumption world for almost 70 years during the Soviet Union existence. Everybody in the market was doing their own thing: reselling GNNS equipment to surveyors including rovers and reference stations. Our company wasn’t much different. We at Industrial geodetic systems R&D have been developing GNSS equipment and deploying reference stations, taking part in a variety of projects in geodynamical and geotechnical monitoring. And the interesting thing is that the more projects we took part in, the more problems we saw.

Opportunities lay in the middle of difficulties

Despite there is a space segment of GLONASS — the satellites — there was no state ground–based GNSS infrastructure (and there still isn’t). And Russia is big. Just too big to be fully covered with reference stations like Germany, or the United States. The capital expenses are just too high.

An approximate amount of GNSS reference stations in the USA and Russia (2015).

However, there are around 1500 deployed GNSS reference stations across the country. They are owned by different companies, local governments or even by private people. The main problem here is, that all of these stations are separated from each other. So, if a surveyor has to work in some other region, he should take rover and base station receivers because he doesn’t know any other source of satellite data over there. Even if there is information about a particular reference station’s existence in the region of works, the following questions are coming up:

  • Where is a station situated?
  • Who is an owner of the station? How can I contact him/her?
  • Does the station work properly?
  • How can I connect to the station and get data?
  • Etc.
Rush in the Russian market before HIVE.
And what about you? Please tell us in few words: How do you find a GNSS reference station and perform work in your region?

And one day our team came up with a solution that answers these questions once and for all.

Building bridges to a bright future

In 2014 our team was actively involved in several projects required GNSS reference stations deployment. For reference station management our team used a homemade software called HIVE. HIVE allowed transforming raw data from reference stations to RINEX files and broadcast RTK-corrections via NTRIP.

HIVE kills rush.

HIVE kills the most important pains of GNSS reference station users:

  • Where is a station situated? HIVE shows all connected reference stations on the map.
  • Who is an owner of the station? How can I contact him/her? HIVE shows some information about a reference station’s owner. And there is no need to contact anybody in person.
  • Does the station work properly? HIVE openly represents each reference station operation statistics (data availability).
  • How can I connect to the station and get data? HIVE uses standard protocols for data transmission, so each user can easily connect to HIVE to get satellite data.

Besides of that HIVE is a cloud software for reference station management, which is free for GNSS reference station owners. For reference station owners, it’s also a way of reference station monetization. Check out HIVE here:

As we did it, we disrupted the market while every other company was deploying new reference stations rather than connecting them into one network. More and more reference station owners decided to connect to HIVE. Now we are two years old and the biggest satellite data provider across Russia.

A story about how four people managed to build a national-size reference station network in just two years and how do we see the market future will be told in our next blog post.

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