Improving GPS accuracy for cVIGIL
cVIGIL uses smart GPS technologies along with the manual address to innovatively use it for Model code/expenditure violation management. Your GPS sensor lets your Android phone use cVIGIL citizen, Investigator, observer and monitor apps, and properly tag your geo-location.
A good signal is crucial for using cvigil. However, the greater the accuracy requirements the longer it can take to get a more precise GPS measurement. It takes time for a GPS device to get a fix and then it will try its best to hold onto it as you move around. As the GPS data is prone to errors and even if one applies correct location manager provider there is a chance of observing occasional jitter in the locations.
One thing to note is that the GPS accuracy only gives an estimate to how good the calculation was given the GPS signals received. Systematic errors can give a good accuracy number (<10m) but still represent a large position error. This is why one may see the jitter even if the accuracy is very good. Accuracy measures are good to remove very large errors (>100m) but on a lower level, it just gives an indication that the calculations converged.
cVIGIL perfectly works in all circumstances by applying the algorithm to remove the very large errors. But there are still chances to improve upon the accuracy and reduce the delays in satellite finding and small errors too, with these simple tweaks.
So, here's how you can improve the GPS signal on your device. Listed are 4 free android app which are tools to help you in better GPS accuracy.
What is GPS?
To know how to optimize your GPS it's helpful to understand how it works. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and was developed by the US Army in 1973, but in the1980s it was released for civilian purposes. It was initially used with 24 satellites but now there are 31 GPS satellites in orbit.
Your smartphone communicates with these satellites via a GPS antenna, which is part of the hardware in the majority of today's smartphones and tablets. This hardware is connected via a driver with the software. Thus, there are three sources of error for the GPS signal in the smartphone:
- The number of GPS satellites at the current location
- The quality of the GPS antenna in the smartphone
- The implementation of the driver in the operating system
GPS signals are further affected by anything that interferes with your smartphone receiving the weak transmissions from GPS satellites circling above us. Nearby trees, cars, buildings, big weather storms can all reduce accuracy, and so can being inside a building or underneath trees.
What does accuracy mean?
First lets briefly look at what accuracy means. Accuracy, in a technical sense, means you get a latitude, longitude and accuracy number from the GPS. Then you can draw a circle using the accuracy number as a radius around the latitude/longitude point. It’s highly likely that your actual location is somewhere within that circle. It’s unfortunate that usual mobile GPS devices don’t also come with a probability factor that would indicate how much to trust the accuracy number. As it is, we will have to take it on a certain amount of faith that our reallocation is, in fact, somewhere within the accuracy circle.
Under absolutely perfect conditions your typical smartphone GPS chip will deliver around 3 meters (~10 ft) in accuracy for several minutes at a time when cVIGIL is opened. Standing on the highest mountaintop in the Himalayan Mountains with no clouds in the sky might come close to being a perfect condition. Under what I’ll call “average” conditions, which reflect everyday in-city usage patterns, you can expect accuracy from 3 – 150 meters (10 ft – 500 ft) or greater and the accuracy number typically fluctuates quite a bit over a period of minutes or hours. It is here we try to bring the accuracy under 100 mts.
Switch on 'High accuracy' mode
To get the best possible signal, you have to be prepared to use a bit more battery than normal. It's a necessary sacrifice, and you can always reverse it later when you don't need to use GPS anymore. Enabling this is easy; just follow a couple of steps and you'll be on your way.
Go into your Settings and tap Location and ensure that your location services are on. You should be able to toggle it at the top right hand of your screen. It should be green and the button to the right.
Now the first category under Location should be Mode, tap that and make sure it's set to High accuracy. This uses your GPS as well as your Wi-Fi and mobile networks to estimate your location. This will use more battery but will utilize all available methods to give you the most accurate location possible. cVIGIL automatically tries to use the high accuracy mode but someone, it might fail. Therefore the above method will help cVIGIL work effectively.
Use a compass app to recalibrate the GPS
If you suspect your compass is not working accurately you can force it to recalibrate. For this, you will need a compass app. Some phones come with one already pre-installed. If so, fire it up and go through the process of recalibration to give your GPS signal a much-needed refresh.
If your Android device does not come with a compass app, you can download one from the Play Store and do it this way. Compass Galaxy is a good and reliable option.
Keep the GPS signal active
One of the main problems that we encountered when going from one app to another is that the GPS is turned off to save battery. If for example you are using cVIGIL and want to take a look at your latest messages, your GPS could be turned off.
However, you can keep the GPS signal active. To do this you must install a GPS app. We recommend Connected GPS. It's a simple app and does the trick. Bear in mind that doing this could result in reduced battery life.
Find out if your GPS issues are hardware- or software-related
With GPS Essentials free android app, you can diagnose whether a poor GPS signal is due to a hardware or software issue. In the GPS Essentials main menu, tap Satellites, then watch (with some amazement) your phone connecting to satellites around the earth.
If no satellites appear, then this could be due to interference from metallic objects around you like the FST jeep, your smartphone case, or your GPS hardware not working properly. If satellites do appear, but your GPS is still out of whack, then this is a software issue.
Refresh your GPS Data
Sometimes your device will get 'stuck' on certain GPS satellites, even if they’re not within range, causing it not to work properly. To fix this, you can use an app like GPS Status & Toolbox to clear your GPS data and to start connecting to satellites from scratch.
In the app, tap anywhere on the screen, then tap the menu icon and hit Manage A-GPS state. Tap Reset, then when that's finished go back into the Manage A-GPS state menu and tap Download. Your GPS data should now be refreshed, and if it starts playing up again then just repeat this process.
Get an external GPS receiver
If your smartphone GPS is no longer sufficient it might be worthwhile for you to have an external receiver. This can be coupled with the smartphone via Bluetooth and recharge with the same charger.
It is very important as Officials that your cVIGIL application effectively use GPS data to report cVIGIL cases, file report and make Investigator appear on the district controller dashboard. With these tweaks, you can help the Election Commission of India in the smart handling of Model code/expenditure violation cases.