GPS and navigation systems have been around for over three decades now. While we do rely on these systems to guide us on a daily basis, not many of us are aware of how these navigation systems are designed and function.
It also doesn’t help when there is too much information being bombarded on the internet, with a number of myths that question the very functioning of these devices. Myths about GPS and navigation signals, the involvement of the government, the impact of weather on the signal strength and location accuracy among many others are creating a lot of confusion about this beneficial technology.
GPS signals: A lot of people believe that GPS signals originate from independent signal stations set up along multiple routes and coverage areas to help you locate and map out your travel. However, GPS and navigation signals are transmitted through the vast network of satellites orbiting planet earth. The signal bounces off through multiple satellites to provide all the relevant data. Bottom line, these signals originate from above through satellites and not ground signal systems.
The military does not control GPS signals: While many may argue that the military can monitor and control GPS and navigation signals, it is only partially true. The military has space squadrons which can monitor GPS signals, but not control them. The government still maintains all regulations of proprietary GPS systems, which is a taxpayer-funded program.
The government can track your movements: This is another myth! The basic systems are just designed to receive signals and not transmit your location back accurately. Most vehicles that have proprietary GPS and navigation systems are designed to receive satellite signals to pinpoint your location and navigate.
Weather can affect signals: Satellite TV can get affected due to bad weather owing to the inherent design of these signals. GPS, however, it does not get affected by bad weather. As long as the GPS systems are free of any obstruction which will block the signal strength, there is no reason to be worried about catching a signal on the go. Location accuracy also will not get affected when you are outside, regardless of the weather.
GPS is accurate: This is not so much as a myth, but a technical error. While most GPS and navigation systems are accurate to the letter, this will entirely depend on your software. Updated software and apps for that matter will provide an accurate location, but this does not necessarily mean the system is flawed. Proprietary systems work well when the software is updated from time to time.
Additional apps mess up the system: Traditional GPS had only one job, provide location accurately and help navigate through places. Modern-day GPS systems installed in premium automobiles have a bulk of apps installed and integrated with the system, which many people cite as the reason for GPS not working sometimes. Building identifiers, real-time traffic updates, alternative route suggestions are all just useful add-ons in your proprietary system and do not necessarily mess with the signal.
Military GPS versus Civilian GPS: Unlike the myth which is being propagated to mislead people, there is no such thing as military GPS and civilian GPS. Both happen to receive the same signals from orbiting satellites, with the quality and type of equipment used being the only distinguishing factor. The bandwidth is another factor which differentiates these two signals.