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How Accurate Is The Global Positioning System?

Better understanding global positioning system and its accuracy


What's going on?

The creation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) by the United States dates back to 1973 when its primary usage was for military purposes. The system uses 24 active satellites that revolve around the Earth every 12 hours. It wasn’t long before the inventors of the GPS realized its potential for civilian’s usage. The only concern was that ordinary citizen or rival forces could pick up similar signals, which resulted in a lack of military advantage.


It’s for that very reason two different versions of GPS exist, with an upgraded military-grade version that can locate with an accuracy of around 22 meters. This system is known as the Precise Positioning System (PPS). On the other hand, a degraded civilian version called the Standard Positioning Service (SPS) can locate with an accuracy of around 100 meters. That is only five times less accurate compared to the military version.


Since the introduction of the smartphone, civilian GPS has gotten even more accurate due to its high levels of usage around the world. From e-commerce to mass transportation to the popular Pokemon Go gaming app, people rely upon location services to not only entertain but also to generally improve their day to day activities and communication.


How does GPS satellite navigation work?