Dr. ing. Marco Lisi from the GNSS Services Department at the European Space Agency: In The Digital Era Geodesists Have The Responsibility To Re-map The World

Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Dr. ing. Marco Lisi is presently GNSS Services Engineering Manager at the European Space Agency, in the Navigation Directorate. In this position he is responsible for the engineering and exploitation of services based on the European navigation infrastructures, Galileo and EGNOS, also supporting the Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency (GSA) as Chief Technical Advisor.
In October 2012, he was appointed Special Advisor of the European Commission on European space policies and he served in this position until October 2014.
He got a “summa cum laude” “Dottore Ingegnere” degree in engineering in 1980 and an Executive MBA diploma at the IRI Management School in 2000.
He has been working for more than thirty-five years in the aerospace, defense and telecommunications sectors, covering managerial positions in R&D, engineering and programs, both in industry and in institutional organizations.
He is Senior Member of IEEE (“Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers”) and of AIAA (“American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics”), Member of ION (“Institute of Navigations. He is also Fellow Member of the British Interplanetary Society and “Honorary Life President” of the Italian chapter of INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering”), that he founded in 2008.
He is a member of the Editorial Board of several international journals on satellite communications, remote sensing and navigation and serves as member of Technical Committee, International Advisory Board, and chairman or session chairman of several international conferences organized by IEEE and AIAA.
Dr. ing. Lisi holds five international patents and authored more than two hundred technical papers in international reviews or conferences. He also contributes to professional magazines with essays on management, social and economic topics.

- Raycho Raychev from Space Challenges, at whose invitation you were in Bulgaria, introd

 

uced you as one of the people who believed in his initiative. You arrived in Sofia in bad weather, but that did not prevent you to share your knowledge with enthusiasm in understandable language with the Bulgarian youths. What is the impression of the Bulgarians? Generally speaking, how do you find Bulgarians? Do you know any Bulgarian in the group of GNSS professionals? Do you know any Bulgarians working in the ESA?

I have been in Bulgaria four times so far and I keep receiving a very positive impression about your Country. I am particularly impressed by the dynamism and preparation of young people, who consider knowledge and professional competence as resources to improve their status and that of the Bulgarian society.

- Do you think that the science has any nationality? And what is the language that scientists speak?

Science does not have any nationality. Moreover, we should never forget about the strong cultural links among the European countries. As far as the language is concerned, English is a “de facto” common language for business and technology. But I studied ancient Latin and Greek at school and found them very useful too.

- Your presentation here gave an impression of easy understandable. Is it true that the complicated GNSS matter can be reduced to something simple and understandable even for nonprofessionals?

Science and technology can be made easily understandable if you understood them well first.

It took me two weeks of hard work to prepare a two hours presentation. But I did it with spirit of service, willing to help, if possible, your young Bulgarian students. This means being all European.

- Who can deal with GNSS? Where GNSS can be studied?

I am convinced that, despite some courses at university, there should be a more practical and applications oriented education about GNSS. In the past I also proposed to organize short courses on Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) in Bulgaria.

- Our public is from engineers in geodesy, can you say how geodesists would contribute to the better GNSS?

Geodesy and geodesy standards are the basis of any PNT system. In the new digital world around us, geodesists have the big responsibility to help re-mapping the world, to provide an enhanced (not only geometrical) representation of the reality.

- You are an engineer yourself. What additional education did you get to become better at work?

I have been studying all my life and I will keep doing so. I usually tell my students that nowadays they have to imagine getting four or five more master degrees over their professional life. This is the reason why they should be strong in the basics, to be able to face new matters and topics at any time.

- Your lecture was about Budget link and Latest trends in Navigation. What are the biggest challenges in this field? (We know that it was better to be there and listen the presentation but in few words, if you don’t mind.) What are the latest trends in navigation technologies?

The big challenge ahead of us is the seamless integration and fusion of the big technological infrastructures of our society:

  • Ubiquitous communications and computing (5G);
  • Ubiquitous sensing (IoT);
  • Ubiquitous positioning and timing (GNSS).

This will allow the development of ever more advanced and user-friendly applications.

- With the announcement of the Broadcom dual frequency receiver for smartphones and tablets, do you think the future of precision GNSS measurements will be in the palm of our hands?

With most of the people in the world having a smartphone in their pockets, we all become “sensors”, collecting huge amount of local data about our immediate surroundings. But in order to be able to use these data, we need to accurately reference them in space and time.

Next generation smartphone and portable (or wearable) devices will surely open the way for innovative services and applications.

- In our conversation with Carlo des Dorides (the Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency), he mentioned that the greatest benefit from the development of the Galileo Program is the greater accuracy that will provide to geodesists. What is your opinion? What is the benefit of developing this technology, for example, for a grandmother from some village, or for a child in a kindergarten, or for an 18 year old boy?

Mapping our territory has been one of most important challenges since the Stone Age. Present technologies allow us to get down to the micro-details of our surroundings. Important results are already being achieved in agriculture and many lives will be saved in the coming years with the adoption of GNSS assisted emergency systems, such as e-Call. This is something that our grandmothers and our children will easily understand and appreciate.

- How far do you think GNSS can be applied in everyday life?

GNSS is already an essential support in our everyday life: think of cars, none of which is today produced without mounting a GNSS navigator. And, in the near future, autonomous driving will be based on GNSS.

- During the presentation, you were addressing the audience as people who would conquer the space. Do you believe that we will have a man on Mars in short term? Or that we will find a Earth-like exoplanet on which the mankind can continue to live? Which ideas from science fiction seem to become a reality in the near future?

I do not know if we will have a man on Mars in the near future as I do not know whether we will be back to the Moon, after almost 50 years. I am convinced though that Space maintains an enormous emotional potential and we all need, especially our young generations, ideals and visions to feed our souls as well as our minds.

- With talks of future colonization of Mars, do you previse a GNSS constellation for there as well? Or, for example, for the Moon?

I have been studying myself systems to provide positioning and timing on the Moon and on Mars. I will be glad to publish some of my papers on the subject on your magazine.

- What are you dreaming about?

I dream about a world in peace where all young people (including my children and my grandson) can have a challenging and rewarding life, as I had so far.

- What would you advise young people starting work in the field of GNSS?

To keep open their minds, alive their dreams and not to be afraid of continuously improving their knowledge and their skills.

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