Crowdsourced Contributions to the Nation’s Geodetic Elevation Infrastructure

Thursday, 18 December 2014
William A Stone, NOAA, Boulder, CO, United States
NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS), a United States Department of Commerce agency, is engaged in providing the nation's fundamental positioning infrastructure – the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) – which includes the framework for latitude, longitude, and elevation determination as well as various geodetic models, tools, and data. Capitalizing on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology for improved access to the nation's precise geodetic elevation infrastructure requires use of a geoid model, which relates GNSS-derived heights (ellipsoid heights) with traditional elevations (orthometric heights). NGS is facilitating the use of crowdsourced GNSS observations collected at published elevation control stations by the professional surveying, geospatial, and scientific communities to help improve NGS' geoid modeling capability. This collocation of published elevation data and newly collected GNSS data integrates together the two height systems. This effort in turn supports enhanced access to accurate elevation information across the nation, thereby benefiting all users of geospatial data.

By partnering with the public in this collaborative effort, NGS is not only helping facilitate improvements to the elevation infrastructure for all users but also empowering users of NSRS with the capability to do their own high-accuracy positioning. The educational outreach facet of this effort helps inform the public, including the scientific community, about the utility of various NGS tools, including the widely used Online Positioning User Service (OPUS). OPUS plays a key role in providing user-friendly and high accuracy access to NSRS, with optional sharing of results with NGS and the public. All who are interested in helping evolve and improve the nationwide elevation determination capability are invited to participate in this nationwide partnership and to learn more about the geodetic infrastructure which is a vital component of viable spatial data for many disciplines, including the geosciences.