NextNav: Building the Future of Geolocation

Ganesh Pattabiraman, Co-founder and CEO

“We started the journey of NextNav with one goal—to build the future of geolocation,” says Ganesh Pattabiraman, co-founder and CEO at NextNav. Having worked in the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology industry for over a decade, Pattabiraman well understood the challenges and vulnerabilities that GPS faces. The technology has become a critical part of life in the modern world and is used for financial transactions, wireless networking, emergency responses, and much more. However, Pattabiraman has observed that though GPS continues to grow, so has its limitations. It lacks security and does not work efficiently in urban and indoor areas. It was, according to Pattabiraman, these realities that pushed him to start a platform that would address the challenges of GPS and develop something that was more efficient, spoof, and jam-free. Today, NextNav provides a next-generation platform from the ground up – one that works indoors and in urban areas, provides “floor level” altitude, and offers security against cyber threats.

Currently, NextNav has two products.

We started the journey to becoming NextNav with one goal—to build the future of geolocation

One, NextNav Pinnacle, is a product that delivers vertical positioning for any geolocation application. Leveraging the barometric sensors already available in phones, tablets, and many other devices, Pinnacle delivers “floor-level” altitude measurements that follow the FCC mandate for 3m accuracy. “Pinnacle shows the world in its 3D glory,” adds Pattabiraman. The second product offered at NextNav is NextNavTerraPoiNT, a resilient Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) system which supplements and enhances existing GPS capabilities. Using a dedicated, terrestrial network of transmitters, NextNav delivers critical PNT services in places where GPS cannot reach such as indoor locations and dense urban areas. NextNavTerraPoiNT is secure, offering fully encrypted signals resistant to GPS spoofing and jamming.

Citing a client success story to emphasize further, Pattabiraman said, “FirstNet, built in collaboration with AT&T, had a requirement from the Federal Government to provide precise 3D location service. So, they came to us and leveraged our vertical location service, NextNav Pinnacle.” Today, FirstNet subscribers in over 100 major metro areas provide highly accurate altitude capabilities for first responders.
Having vertical location data at their fingertips helps first responders respond to emergencies in multi-story buildings safely and efficiently. According to an independent exercise conducted by San Francisco Public Safety, first responders leveraging vertical location technology were able to respond 8 times faster. NextNav’s location technology consistently delivered the highest quality vertical geolocation service of ±3m 94 percent of the time, which consistently exceeded the + 3m (with 80 percent accuracy) metric set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

As for the future of the company, the plan at NextNav is to change the paradigm and help people understand the three-dimensional space, making them realize that NextNav’s technology is more than just finding spots on a map. The team at NextNav looks forward to a future where GPS-like capabilities can be efficiently used inside buildings and urban areas, for flying drones and delivering packages. To date, NextNav’s technology has saved lives by enabling rapid, precise emergency response and enhanced situational awareness for first responders. “Currently, we’re expanding with immersive AR gaming into new markets. We’re adding new dimensions to geolocation—and we know that our success depends on teamwork,” says Pattabiraman. Finally, while believing in the government’s plans to improve GPS technology in the country, NextNav hopes to be a part of a solution that creates an audacious alternative to GPS.