We are all habituated to the fact that concerning tech, the military usually has a few more toys to play with. Since many consumer technologies were originated by the army ones, I’m continually assuming that the military is more advanced, and the best examples to argue what I’m saying are the GPS system.
So if you thought your new iPhone‘s GPS program is the dreamed one, I’m sorry to tell you that even the military watches with the service location included could beat and kick down your smartphone one in a matter of seconds on issues like accuracy —At least so far.
Global Positioning System: the GPS acronyms. A so popular gadget in nowadays that explained, in a nutshell, is just a satellite-based radio navigation system.
How the World Stopped Getting Lost
Who’d say? Ironically, something good after World War II, since that scenario made the Defense Department of the United States of America to get determined and find a solution to the problem of precise, absolute positioning.
So developed and controlled by them, it allows any user to know their location, speed, and height, 24 hours a day, under any atmospheric conditions and from practically anywhere in the globe.
The distance can be determined through wave modulated, complicated codes, sent by three or four satellites. However, the satellite positioning is not that simple. Getting the precise measurement of the distance is not an easy task.
Accuracy: Military GPS > Civilian GPS
So the history divides GPS system into two branches: GPS Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and GPS Precision Positioning Service (PPS). The first one is the used by the deadly us, and the second is then utilized by the army.
Now what you don’t know is that one of them is more accurate in meters and the other one in inches: the SPS broadcasts on one frequency, while PPS uses two —Guess which one?
So the accuracy of the GPS signal in space is actually the same for both the civilian GPS service (SPS) and the military GPS service (PPS), yet the military users can perform the ionospheric correction, a technique that reduces radio degradation caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. With less degradation, PPS provides better accuracy than the less complex SPS.
Accessibility of military grade GPS system
The data accessible by civilians is the coarse-acquisition (C/A) code on the L1 (1575.42MHz) frequency. And actually lesser known is that all of the GPS satellites launched since 2005 also transmit the new civilian-accessible L2C code on the L2 (1227.60) MHz frequency.
The military, in addition to C/A on L1, and L2C on L2, also have access to the encrypted P(Y) data being sent on both the L1 and the L2 frequencies. So you can see that the military get access to quite a lot more data than civilians, and therefore military GPS can achieve better accuracy and reliability —Point for the military watches.
The good thing is civilian GPS is being improved all the time, with the addition of the L2C, L1C, and L5 signals, more satellites, and don’t forget that there are other systems that complement/augment GPS such as WAAS, EGNOS, GLONASS, Galileo.
If the GPS systems itself are expensive, you could feed your imagination with the highest range of prices of an advanced one like the militaries.
Just keep calm, the accuracy in our data accessibility is coming and for $0 much less. And while waiting, have a list of the best standalone navigation devices for this year!
Although we cannot get to the level of the sophisticated military gadgets, I’m pretty sure there’s still a lot to discover in the devices we have access to, so do not overestimate them and get ready for a future where you will get informed about your girlfriend’s bathroom location when she is doing the number two, ha!