How to Correct GPS Errors

Even before GPS devices were invented, humans have been using the skies and the stars to help them out in determining their exact location and where the right direction is. After GPS devices were introduced, we started using it on a daily basis.

Then again, we can’t help but wonder: is it giving us accurate information? Is it really reliable? Sometimes, the information provided to us is wrong, and instead of making life easier for us, it only worsens the situation.

In this article, we will try to check how to correct GPS errors and eliminate those issues. Before we proceed, let us first take a quick look at what a GPS is and how it works.

How Does GPS Work?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It consists of three parts, namely: a group of evenly spaced satellites circling above the earth, ground stations that confirm the position of the satellites, and receivers that catch the signals transmitted from these space capsules.

This system was designed by the United States Department of Defense during the 1970s. It was initially created to be used by the US Military but is now widely used by everyone.

GPS receivers determine our exact location on earth by calculating the distance from four or more satellites. Ordinary receivers may have a few yards difference from where we actually are, but the more advanced ones can pinpoint our location with just a few inches of a discrepancy.

Common GPS Errors

Nowadays, people are becoming more dependent on GPS devices to help them find a specific address, a new restaurant, or a faster route to reach their desired destination. However, there will be times where we will encounter an error from these devices. Here are some of the most common GPS issues:

  • When in a Congested Area

Sometimes, the signals coming from the satellites get blocked when we are in a congested area, like in the middle of tall buildings or trees. That is when we experience the positioning error or worse, no positioning information at all.

  • During Bad Weathers

Weather also plays a significant role in the accuracy of the information received because it may weaken the GPS signal, but generally, they don’t affect the GPS reception itself.

  • Problems with the Positions of the Satellites

There will be instances when the satellites are not positioned evenly, and that can affect the information being transmitted to us.

  • Atmospheric Refraction

Atmospheric refraction is when the light or electromagnetic wave veer away from its path as it goes through the atmosphere due to air density differences. A result of this will be a significant change in the transmission of data from the satellite.

  • Multipath GPS Error

A multipath GPS error occurs when the signals coming from the satellite bounces off into another local object here on earth instead of directly going through the GPS receiver.

  • Ephemeris Error

Ephemeris errors are the discrepancies found in the satellite’s movement.

We must always remember that signals cannot be transmitted through water, walls, soils, and more. GPS signal is also basically weak, which means that it can be easily blocked by different factors.

How to Correct GPS Errors?

Many ways to provide corrections to the errors we usually encounter on our day to day experiences are being provided to us by different agencies. Leading manufacturers are continuously designing new products and enhancing the existing ones for much better performance.

We should also take into consideration the fact that there are some factors to these errors that are beyond our control, such as nature-related ones. Nevertheless, with the non-stop research being done by different agencies, we can rest assured that they will be able to find a workaround for these issues.

Below are some steps on how to correct GPS errors:

  • Differential Correction

This is one method that is used to correct GPS errors. There are two ways to do it: real-time error correction, wherein adjustments are made right away after receipt of information; or post-processing correction, where necessary changes are made after all the GPS information has been collected.

  • WAAS or Wide Area Augmentation System

In this process, they use inexpensive enabled receivers for real-time correction that are set up to enhance GPS positioning. These ground stations send the information to a master station and then calculates the data for correction. The satellite will then send the corrected signals to complete the necessary changes.

  • DGPS or Differential Global Positioning System

This is a system used to correct GPS errors by making necessary adjustments using several different techniques to get an accurate location result.

DGPS uses two receivers: one that is fixed and positioned in a known location, and another roving receiver. A stationary station or receiver continuously collects information and then uses those data to determine what kind of correction is needed.

In real-time DGPS, corrections are first sent to the roving units, and then necessary adjustments are made based on the data received.

  • Kinematic Positioning

This method uses real-time kinematic GPS. This is a technique that uses satellite navigation to improve the location accuracy data collected from satellite positioning systems.

  • Post-Processed Differential Correction

This is another method for correcting GPS errors. This method needs special software that will assist you in searching the web for the nearest ground station as a source for the GPS corrections.

You should check several factors before actually deciding what will be the best method to use for GPS correction. While you don’t need to have a wireless data connection while in the field when using the post-processing method, if you are looking for a more accurate report, real-time DGPS is the one for you.


Using GPS in our daily routine is an essential part of our lives. Most of the time, we get the best and the most accurate information from our GPS device. Then again, nothing is perfect, and there will be moments where the GPS device will fail us and give us incorrect data.

That is the reason why constant studies and research are always being conducted to improve the performance of GPS devices further. We just have to stay updated so that we can best use this technology to our advantage.

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