What Is UTC, and How Is It Used?
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a widely-used time standard that is essential for keeping all computer systems, international communications, and air travel in sync. It is a successor to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and is primarily utilized as the reference time standard for civil purposes globally.
UTC is based on a 24-hour format that is consistent across different time zones all over the world. It is set up so that the time difference between each time zone is always an exact, fixed increment of one hour. This means that when it is, for example, 9 pm in New York City, it is 2 am the next day in London, and 9 am in Hong Kong.
UTC is generated through atomic clocks, which report the consistent and exact interval of vibrations taken by the strontium atom’s electrons. It is recognized as the most reliable and accurate time measurement in the world as this system never loses or gains a second.
UTC is commonly used in computer systems as a reference point, especially in the software development process. When programming applications, software developers use UTC to avoid issues with time zone conversions when code is run between different data centers located in different parts of the world. For time-sensitive activities, such as stock trading or online streaming, using UTC guarantees that time is consistent and accurate regardless of the viewer’s location.
UTC is also utilized in global air travel, which means all aircraft traveling internationally use this time standard. It allows pilots and air traffic controllers to keep track of their location and timing, no matter where they are flying, thus avoiding chaos and increasing aviation efficiency.