What are UTM coordinates and what are they useful for? How can they be useful for entering waypoints for your Android GPS app?
UTM stands for the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system. It is another way of specifying waypoints, in addition to longitude and latitude.
Whether you want to use UTM coordinates depends on the source of your data. Many printed topo maps have grids in UTM. If you have a guidebook or other printed material that publishes coordinates in UTM, chances are you want to use UTM coordinates.
Why? Well, most people can't convert longitude and latitude to UTM in their head. In fact, a computer program to convert coordinates will often use several hundred lines of instructions.
Here is an example of entering coordinates in BackCountry Navigator. On the left are the coordinates in longitude and latitude. On the right is the same coordinate entered in UTM.
This coordinate, 10 T 546542 5056337, has four parts total:
- 10 refers to the UTM Zone, one of 60 zones on the earth.
- T is the latitude band.
- 5465422 is the EASTING value, measuring position in the horizontal direction.
- 5056337 is the Northing Value, measuring position in the vertical direction.
The other reason why you would use UTM Coordinates in an Android GPS app is to be able to report your coordinates to someone else who is using UTM. Search and Rescue groups, for example, often like to use UTM Coordinates.
When you turn on the UTM Coordinate setting in BackCountry Navigator, you will also see UTM Coordinates in the trip computer.
Above, you can see that the longitude space, instead of degrees, contains a Zone, latitude band, and easting value, while the latitude space contains a northing value.
This is not all there is to learn about UTM coordinates, but hopefully this is useful to those using UTM coordinates on their Android phone.