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Sat-Nav

Limitations
Sat-Navs (Satellite Navigation systems) are becoming more popular with many drivers now having them in their cars. National news has been made with stories of people 'blindly' following their Sat-Navs and, as a result, they've ended up in various predicaments - usually down a route that's completely unsuitable for the vehicle they're in.

Another area of 'blind' acceptance is the use of Post Codes to set the destination of a journey. Many Sat-Navs are able to pin-point addresses by using the specific address - and this will be more accurate than using Post Codes - which often cover several properties - and in rural areas, such properties can be quite a distance apart. Drivers are then stopping pedestrians or knocking on doors asking for the specific property they're looking for.

Finding Destinations Accurately

Most Sat-Navs have the option to set the desired destination by grid co-ordinates. Many people will be familiar with using a map co-ordinate system with Ordnance Survey maps; usually, of the form 'SD 776 372'. Few Sat-Navs accept Ordnance Survey grid reference numbers - as they're unique to the UK. Instead, they generally accept latitude and longitude ('lat/long') co-ordinates. Lat/long co-ordinates can be given in a few different formats although there are two common ones. Sat-Navs will use either one or the other and some may accept a location in either format. These two formats are:
  • Degrees, Minutes, Seconds. Tenths (D:M:S) and look like this: +54° 19' 42.33", -3° 22' 35.87"
  • Decimal degrees (DD.ddddddd) which look like this: 54.328425, -3.376630
Both can have slight variations - while the numbers remain the same, they are sometimes written with letters instead of the '+' or '-':
  • N - North
  • S - South
  • E - East
  • W - West
e.g.: 54.328425N, 3.376630W or N54.328425, W3.376630. It is highly likely your Sat-Nav will accept the co-ordinates in one form or the other - either check the instruction manual - or, at the point it offers choices of what type of destination, see what other options are offered on the same screen (along with 'postcode', 'address', there will be something like 'point on the map' and 'co-ordinates') (might be on page 2); as this is where the co-ordinate method will be available.

If your Sat-Nav doesn't accept OS grid refs., you can convert them on Geograph's website or on 'nearby.org.uk'. Also, there is a batch converter option.

Place locations on millomweb and associated maps

millomweb, and the associated maps, offer lat/long co-ordinates to help you accurately find destinations. The maps, all based on Google Maps can be clicked on at any location to reveal the co-ordinates for that location. Just position the mouse pointer over the location and right-click - then choose 'What's here?' from the drop-down menu. A green stylised down-pointing arrow will appear on the map and the lat/long co-ordinates for that location will be displayed above the top of the map - in the box normally used to search for a location. One can also then click on the green arrow to reveal the co-ordinate location in an alternative format.

Some of the place marker info boxes also have lat/long co-ordinate information within them. In such cases, both the common forms of co-ordinate are usually given. Click either on the marker on the map or on the listing at the left side of the screen to reveal the info box for a particular marker.

One final note
While the latitude and longitude of any location can be obtained, most Sat-Navs will assume you will be using roads. If your destination is a long way from a road, it may assume the wrong access route to your destination. If getting the location from Google Maps, don't select a specific building but instead, pin-point the entrance gates to the building or car park. Hopefully by that point, your final destination will be signposted.