Iran declared its intentions several months ago to fund an Iranian Local Positioning System (LPS) – a satellite navigation system similar to the U.S.-driven Global Positioning System (GPS). Announced by the Deputy of the Iran Space Agency (ISA), the satellite system is a long-term project and will require heavy investment on the part of the government. As funding and planning get underway, it has been recognized by Tehran that a stop gap measure should be implemented to aid in reducing road accidents, and other transportation problems. A national radio navigation system, named Naba, has been proposed as this interim solution.
A collaboration between the Homeland Security Committee, the Ministry of Defence, and Iranian law enforcement organizations, the Naba radio system began development approximately one year ago. The system is designed to use cellular towers to triangulate driver signals and pinpoint the speed at which cars are moving based on available mobile network data from providers such as MCI, Irancell, and Rightel – Iranian mobile telephone providers. The overall radio system will operate from devices installed on individual vehicles, and it is not yet clear what the enforcement policies surrounding mandating drivers to install such devices are. Costing approximately U.S.$90 (300,000 tomans) per individual device, the system writ large is anticipated to reduce vehicular accidents by 40% to 50%, and recover a large portion of the reported U.S.$4.8B losses attributed to car accidents in the country.
It has become a trend throughout the last decade, as a result of sanctions against Iran by the U.S., UN, and the EU, that Iran has turned to the development of indigenous technologies to fill gaps in their service markets. Iranian versions of Uber (Snapp and Tap30), Foursquare (Dunro), and Grubhub (Delion Foods), to name several examples, have grown from the inability of those companies to enter the Iranian market due to the political and diplomatic environment. The Development of Naba is part of this phenomenon.
By Natalie Fuchs, Contributing Editor for SpaceWatch Middle East on all things Iranian space and technology.