People have been trying to find ways to keep track of time, scores, events, and projects for millennia. The earliest time-keeping devices date back five or six thousand years to early Egypt and China, where obelisks and sundials were used to keep track of time and the movements of the planets. By the 1300s the mechanical clock had been invented. Digital clocks and battery-operated devices came into use in the 20th century, and today Internet time servers, the GPS clock or a digital scorekeeper are all helping us keep on time and on task.
Why Network Time Is Important
The Internet’s Network Time Protocol, or NTP, has been in use since the mid 80s and is unusual in being a very old Internet protocol that we still use. Most such protocols have long been replaced with more efficient and useful ones; but the NTP remains crucial.
Machines all over the world use NTP to ensure that their time servers are absolutely correct. The move to a digital scorekeeper or NTP clock use is a move towards greater accuracy; important given that every day the United States economy loses around 50 million work hours just from timesheets being filled out incorrectly.
How Are Time Servers Synced?
A clock, computer, digital scorekeeper, or even a device connected to the IoT is connected to the NTP using PTP, or the Precision Time Protocol, which synchronizes all the devices across a network. PTP was standardized in 2002, allowing devices worldwide to connect with the NTP time server and keep accurate time in synch with all other devices.
Are All Devices Connected Individually?
For the sake of efficiency, not every digital scorekeeper or personal computer connects directly to NTP. Instead, network time servers pass on the time to other devices connected to the network. Each item is awarded a position, known as a stratum, that indicates where it appears on the hierarchy of servers and how close it is to the highest quality time server. The most accurate devices on the server have a stratum of one, while the least accurate have a stratum place of 15.
Time is crucial to business and the economy. Inrix reports that the results of their data studies show each of us are wasting 42 hours sitting in traffic every year, expending over $1,400 in gas in the process. That wasted time could be partially recovered with the use of digital time servers and robust connections between homes and offices: just one of the ways that accurate timekeeping keeps the economy moving.