GPS Augmentation Systems Explained

18 Jul 2016

A global positioning augmentation system refers to a system that helps to improve the exactness, reliability, availability, or various other aspects of a GPS device that the device is not intrinsically equipped with. A global positioning system (GPS) needs to be completely accurate to be as effective for its intended purposes as possible.

Global positioning systems are used by both the military and civilians, and various augmentation systems have been developed for both. In order to meet the needs of both sectors, the US government has developed several types of augmentation systems, which have been made available to the public. Some of these systems include:

  • Nationwide Differential Global Positioning Systems (NDGPS)

These ground-based systems increase the accuracy and the integrity of global positioning systems to those who use it, on both US land and US waterways. This augmentation system has been designed to meet international standards, and 50 countries have developed similar systems.


  • Wide Area (WAAS)

This satellite-based system is powered by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and supports the navigation of aircraft throughout North America. This augmentation system is also used by other communities that utilize positioning and navigation data.

  • Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS)

Managed and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which records the global positioning data for the precise positioning that is related to the National Spatial Reference System. Currently, more than 200 sectors, including private, public, and academic, share data with the CORS network. This data is compiled from more than 1,800 global positioning tracking stations around the globe. A web-based Online Positioning User Service provides free post-processing of GPS data by utilizing CORS information. This system is also being modified so that real-time users can utilize it.


  • Global Differential Global Positioning Systems (GDGPS)

This is the most accurate GPS augmentation system of all. Created by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), this purpose of this system is to support real-time positioning, as well as timing and the determination of requirements that are set forth by science missions that are backed by NASA.


  • International GNSS Service (IGS)

Comprised of more than 350 global positioning monitoring stations from a total of 200 organizations that contribute in 80 countries around the world, this goal of this augmentation system is to provide users with the highest quality and most accurate information and products possible.

The Benefit of GPS Augmentation Systems

Because these augmentation systems improve the function of global positioning systems, they enhance the user’s experience. For example, the US Navy can pinpoint the precise location of a vessel in the sea, down to its exact longitudinal and latitudinal components. The general public can also benefit from this devices. For instance, a parent can find the specific location of a child she is tracking via a GPS device.

Thanks to augmentation devices, global positioning systems become even more accurate, improving the known locations of whatever items these devices are used to track, on the ground, on the sea, in the air, and in space.



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