How to use GPS and Google Coordinates

I started this off as a post on boards.ie but thought I’d pop it here as it ended up being more like a blog post how to by the time I was finished!

As a man with a van who has to travel to new addresses far and wide, the most efficient, accurate and easy way to get somewhere is using Latitude and Longitude coordinates. Unfortunately not many people are aware of such a system and just how easy it makes it for the likes of myself to find an address.

With phones with built in GPS and maps readily available from only €39, I’d consider it an extremely valuable tool for anyone, especially in Ireland where so many houses can be in the middle of nowhere, with no post codes and only a road name which could go on for miles. I’ve read a few threads here of people complaining about failed deliveries from couriers etc because they simply couldn’t find the house.

Google Street View makes it even easier too. I’ve freaked out a few customers over the phone asking things like “is it the one with the yellow door?” after they tell me their address 😀

It’s simple to go from looking up an address to arriving there with your GPS.
1 – Go to maps.google.ie
2 – Search, zoom and pan until you find the area location.
3 – Drag the little orange man in the zoom bar to the exact street if available. Navigate in street view until you find the exact point.
4 – Click the link button just to the left of the pan buttons, you’ll be presented with a link URL and within this URL you’ll find the coordinates in decimal format. The dublin area is generally around 53.000000,-6.000000 numbers. You can also get the exact coordinates by right clicking any point on the map (while not in street view) and clicking “What’s here?”. The coordinates will then appear in the map search field in the format as above.
5 – Input these numbers to your GPS or have them available to give over the phone etc to anyone who may need them. Make sure you choose the correct format on your GPS. It must be decimal format (on Garmin you’re looking for h ddd.ddddd°). Also, just to note, your GPS may have North, South, East and West settings rather than + or -. Anything above 0 is North or East and anything below is South or West.
6 – Double check the route before you set off to make sure you have inputted the coordinates properly and they lead to the correct area as one little mistake could lead to a huge difference in distance.
7 – Set off and you’ll eventually arrive within a few meters of the selected coordinates.

Your GPS device should also be able to tell your coordinates and this is a great way to share your location to anyone you may be meeting who also has a GPS and most smart phones should have a “Share My Location” option built in.

It’s unlikely coordinates will become a standardised way of sharing addresses, for the next generation or two anyway. Although the coordinate system is nothing new, handheld consumer devices being able to take advantage of them is and maybe they’ll be more widely implemented in the coming years.

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