UTM is not KISSable -- by Eugene Reimer 2010-Aug15

Being KISSable is to adhere to the KISS principle. 

The UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) coordinate system has serious flaws: not only do UTM-coordinates contain much redundant info (the silly Latitude-bands), there's also ambiguity (when N or S are used instead of Latitude-bands), downright inanity (the plus-ten-million in southern-hemisphere which prevents doing away with the N or S), much that is far from being "Universal" (it's not used near the poles, one latitude-band is wider than the rest, those bizarre special-case zones for Svalbard).  The most pitiful part is that a Zoned-Easting has been defined in terms of Longitude, thus making UTM not an alternative to Latitude-Longitude but an add-on.  There's also the hideously muddled-up notation used in writing UTM-locations, where Zone and Easting which go together are separated by either a Latitude-band or the Northern- versus Southern-hemisphere indicator which, either way, belongs with the Northing since its only purpose is to tell us when a Northing is a Southing.  I can't help wondering whether UTM was designed by fools or by scoundrels. 

UTM does provide us with a useful test: when you encounter someone who likes UTM then you know immediately that you're dealing with someone who is not KISSable (you're dealing with someone who would deliberately fail to eschew obfuscation:-) and can then arm yourself accordingly. 


Send your comments to ereimer@shaw.ca.