If you are planning on buying a GPS tracker, you might want to know how accurate this device is before investing in it. A GPS tracker works in tandem with a GPS satellite. There are more than 30 satellites that orbit around the earth. These satellites transmit data to and from the GPS devices attached to your objects or vehicles. The data is then transmitted to the GPS apps that you use to communicate with the tracker. It is quite an easy process to understand. However, how accurate are these trackers when put to use? What factors affect the accuracy of GPS tracking device? Keep reading to understand. 

When you talk about precision, you mean the difference in distance the tracker relays back to you with respect to the actual distance on the ground. Most GPS trackers are known to be reliable and accurate to a fault, and the errors are negligible. Though it started as a military guidance system, GPS tech has become the backbone of various industries, like transport, logistics, and even a part of our families. It is a very advanced location system that has become an inseparable part of our daily lives and is offered under consumer electronics listings in the market. 

For a GPS system to work, it needs a crystal clear vision of the sky to be able to connect to the satellites. GPS devices narrow down your location by analyzing the distance between a GPS tracking receiver and four more GPS satellites. The satellites send radio impulses to these tracking receivers on a regular basis, making location computations happen. 

Factors Affecting the GPS system

Several factors impact the global positioning system in some or the other way. Since these signals are transmitted from space to the ground level, there is plenty of room for interference, mostly natural. 

The weather conditions perhaps have the most impact on a GPS system. The signals go through various layers of air and weather conditions. If the weather is not ideal, then it could potentially delay the accuracy of a tracker’s signal. 

The congestion near your location can also hamper getting a good GPS signal. For example, you will get much better and more accurate GPS services in an open field, with your tracker having access to more satellites. On the other hand, if you are in a cafe in New York City, the traffic will be more, and you will have access to lesser satellites than in the open field. Cities and high skylines can cause tracking signals to bounce off of the buildings, disturbing the accuracy of the data. 

In conclusion, the more sky you have, the more accurately your device will perform. For vehicular GPS activity, the accuracy must be enough to track the location against the maps used in the app you are using. 

Some other factors that influence the functioning of your GPS:

  • Lack of connectivity in a remote area
  • The timing of the day affects the position of the orbiting GPS satellites
  • Unforeseen weather forecasts

How do you know if your GPS system is effective?

The speed and effectiveness of a GPS system are measured by its decibel value. Signals travel more than 20,000km, and by the time they reach the surface, they get as low as -130dBm. In areas with tall buildings or heavy forest covers (blocking the clear sky), it can go further down to -150dBm. It might be difficult for GPS to function at this level. But once the connectivity has been established, there is no need to worry. Your GPS will do the job. It can carry on functions without much difficulty till -170 dBm. To know more about it, you can read this study on Science Direct.

The GPS systems collect data from all satellites available to find the best locations and routes for you. They then account for the difference between the time at which every signal is sent, contained in the signal message. This process helps ascertain how long it takes to reach the device. These signals travel at the speed of light, so every millisecond is crucial. Even a miscalculation by one millisecond can mean 300kms of inaccuracy. Therefore these trackers have no choice but to stay accurate by every second. 

Assisted GPS Technology (A-GPS)

Assisted GPS is a web-based service that increases the effectiveness and performance of a satellite positioning system by a considerable margin. Assisted GPS services help you receive intel on which satellites are available near your receiver. This transmission of information only requires a stable internet. It lets you determine your location in less than 6 seconds, significantly reducing the time from 1 minute. The process is faster and easier other technologies, and you as the user have some say in what satellite supports you. Because of its effectiveness, big companies like Apple include this as a feature in their phones. Currently, it is one of the most reliable forms of tracking technology available in the market. At the same time, if your smartphone ends up getting disconnected from the internet, you might take quite a few minutes to connect to your regular four satellites to continue using GPS.  

Today, the GPS satellites send signals every ten nanoseconds. It causes a difference of not more than 3 meters. For this very reason, every GPS tracking device coordinates with at least four satellites. These extra satellites prevent errors and glitches from occurring.  

Essentially, the more satellites associate with the device, the faster and more accurate your GPS tracker will be. Hence, the precision and reliability of the data will also improve. These satellites revolve around the Earth, so the number of satellites near your location will vary (rest assured, there will always be around four satellites near you). The way these satellites position around Earth is not in our hands, but it still impacts the precision of a device. 

Scientific research[Source] is working on a new set of satellites for the next generation. This development can ensure an increase in accuracy and overall availability of GPS around the globe, making the world a better-connected place.