GPS coordinates rely on a system of satellites that can pinpoint the latitude and longitude of exact locations. GPS coordinates are important because they make it easy to find specific spots. However, the importance of GPS coordinates fades when you don’t know how to read them correctly. Below, you will learn more about reading coordinates, the technology behind GPS, and the importance of GPS coordinates in several industries.
READING GPS COORDINATES
GPS coordinates tell you the latitude and longitude of a specific location. In the easiest situation, a location sits directly along lines of latitude and longitude. In those rare cases, coordinates would only need to give you simple, whole numbers. For example, 10° N, 67° W sits right outside of Caracas, Venezuela.
In most cases, GPS coordinates need to give you more information because locations aren’t along lines of latitude and longitude. That’s where degrees, minutes, and seconds (DMS) come in. When you include the minutes and seconds, the GPS coordinates of the location in Caracas get more specific: 10° 29’ 56.2272” N, 66° 55’ 1.2612” W.
What do all of these numbers mean?
Recommended reading: Reading GPS Coordinates: A Guide
Degrees are the whole numbers that represent lines of longitude and latitude. In the Caracas example, 10° N is the latitude, and 67° W is the longitude. Latitude is always represented as degrees north or south. The equator is 0°. Anything north of the equator gets an “N.” Anything south gets an “S.” Longitude is always represented as degrees east and west. The prime meridian is an arbitrarily drawn line that stretches from the Arctic to the Antarctic and crosses western Europe and western Africa. Any location west of the prime meridian receives a “W.” Any location east of the prime meridian receives an “E.”
Of course, most places on the planet don’t sit on lines of latitude and longitude. They’re somewhere between the lines, so you need more information to determine their precise locations.
The distance between each line of latitude and longitude is divided into 60 minutes, which means 30’ is right in the middle of two lines.
GPS coordinates offer further accuracy by dividing each minute into 60 seconds.
The importance of GPS coordinates and the accuracy of today’s technology means you can get even more specific than seconds. That’s why you often see seconds with decimal points. The numbers after the decimal point describe a spot between the seconds.
HOW GPS WORKS
The Global Positioning System uses at least four satellites to calculate the location of a GPS receiver. Using at least four satellites ensures location accuracy. The system works all over the world because it’s part of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), which includes satellites managed by Europe, China, and Russia.
Most GPS apps and devices have features that improve the importance of GPS coordinates. For example, LandAirSea’s SilverCloud software lets users monitor vehicle speeds and create geofences that automatically send alerts when a device crosses a geographical line. When choosing GPS devices, consumers and businesses should make sure they purchase models that work with helpful software.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GPS COORDINATES FOR BUSINESSES
The importance of GPS coordinates varies by industry. However, some benefits apply to most businesses. For example, you can use GPS devices to track asset locations and prevent theft. If a vehicle, crate, or other asset goes missing, you can use the attached GPS unit to find it or report the location to law enforcement.
Other ways to use GPS include:
- Managing commercial fleets to improve efficiency and save money on fuel.
- Avoiding supply chain disruptions to keep stores, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities stocked.
- Tracking packages to tell customers when their orders will arrive or alert them about unavoidable delays.
- Monitoring driving behaviors to improve safety and potentially lower insurance costs.
- Automating warehouse tasks by letting robots retrieve items while employees perform more complex jobs.
The importance of GPS coordinates applies to industries that might not seem obvious at first. For example, farmers can use GPS devices to manage their crops more efficiently. Some farming equipment can use GPS technology to operate independently while watering, fertilizing, and harvesting crops.
HOW ACCURATE ARE GPS COORDINATES?
The accuracy of GPS coordinates depends on several factors, including the type of device you use. For example, smartphone apps are typically accurate up to 4.9 meters (about 16 feet). That’s not accurate enough for locating packages in a warehouse, but it works fine for most people. You probably don’t need exact coordinates to find a store. You just need an app to get you near the store so you can see its sign.
Stand-alone devices are much more accurate than smartphones. The LandAirSea 54 is accurate up to 1.8 meters (a little under 6 feet). By choosing a stand-alone device built for accuracy, you benefit more from the importance of GPS coordinates.
As GPS technology improves, you can expect coordinates to become even more precise. Increased precision will likely play a role in emerging technologies like self-driving cars and automated delivery drones.
GET STARTED WITH LANDAIRSEA
No matter what industry you work in, you can find a way to use accurate GPS coordinates. Make sure you choose reliable GPS devices and software with the features you need to excel.
Some of LandAirSea’s most popular devices include:
- LAS 54, a small, lightweight GPS tracker with a built-in magnet, waterproof design, and up to three weeks of battery life.
- LAS SYNC, a real-time GPS tracker that connects directly to your vehicle’s OBD-II ports.
- LAS Overdrive, a compact GPS device with an extended battery life that can last up to four weeks.