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Are there any communities or fields where it is common to save geographic coordinates in minutes instead of degrees? (I just received a batch of addresses referenced that way and it made me wonder.)

Are there any advantages in saving lat/lon in 'decimal minutes'?

For example:


instead of

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Ahhh, the dreaded 'decimal minutes'...

I think that different people are comfortable with different formats based on the areas that they work/play in.

If you plan to use the coordinates to create spatial features, I would store them in decimal degrees (or as spatial features). Computers don't deal well with Sexgesimal numeral systems. (Funny that our Web filter won't let me look at this article about number systems at work...)

The math is easy to convert to many different formats in an output query.

If I remember correctly, the default coordinate format on the screens of my old GPS was decimal minutes.

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I forgot about the old decimal minute GPS systems. Where I work the main databases store all coordinates in decimal degrees. Some old applications to push data into data warehouses convert to decimal minutes and store the integer portion. Now I know they must be from old military GPS programmers. :) – Tim Rourke Nov 2 '10 at 14:11
I've only had to deal with it with "old" GPS systems too (which were fairly new at the time). We converted to decimal degrees, as I recall. – mwalker Nov 2 '10 at 15:45

in Portugal, as far as I know, it is basically used the decimal system. DMS system is only used when using paper maps.


in search and rescue operations in the sea, the coordinates are always in DMS.

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Oh, I didn't mean DMS. Added an example to clarify. – underdark Nov 2 '10 at 14:03
as i'm aware, that system is not used in Portugal. not even taught. – Marinheiro Nov 3 '10 at 9:49

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