By Collen McGee
Garrison Public Affairs Office

Many convenient things in use today are the result of federal or military research. Agencies like NASA and the Department of Defense are just two of those responsible for inventing everyday items that make life a little easier. With this column, we will explore a new one each week.

If you use your phone or your car is equipped with a mapping program -- you can find almost any address. This is possible due to military innovation.

According to NASA's website, in the 1960s, a positioning system that used radio signals and satellite feeds was developed by the Navy to track U.S. subs carrying nuclear missiles during the Sputnik era. The system was the beginning of modern positioning technology.

This system was taken up by the Department of Defense as part of a joint effort to build a more robust technology. It blended systems from the Air Force and the Navy that incorporated radio, satellite and atomic clocks to provide positioning data.

Today's GPS on a smartphone is accurate to within 4.9 meters under open sky, according to Accuracy is limited by bridges, buildings and trees that could interfere with the signal.
According to NASA, "GPS is a multi-use, space-based radio-navigation system owned by the U.S. Government and operated by the U.S. Air Force to meet national defense, homeland security, civil, commercial and scientific needs."

The system is also more than the part used to find a friend's house or a new restaurant. There are two pieces to the entire GPS array. One, called Precise Positioning Service is used by the military and other federal agencies. The other is the Standard Positioning Service used by the civilian world.
According to, the government's PPS uses two frequencies while the SPS uses one. The accuracy of each is about the same and many of the same things that interfere with the SPS also impact the PPS system. However, there are several technologies available to both military and civilian users to boost accuracy.

For more info on GPS, visit