Home > Public Domain Data > The National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer and Citizen Science

The National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer and Citizen Science

The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) Data Explorer is a web mapping application, launched by the Survey in 2012, allowing users to view geodetic control data across the USA and its territories.  To use, zoom in on the map on a location of interest, and select “plot marks”.  You will see all of the control marks in that vicinity, including CORS, GPS sites, horizonal control markers, and vertical control markers.  Furthermore, the NGS datasheet documentation for each control mark is accessible from the same mapping interface, including the latitude, longitude, elevation, position source, complete description of the physical marker, the history of the marker, the condition of the marker, and other information.

The mapping site was launched in 2012 and has seen improvements since then.  I found it easy to use, and very useful. The only thing I could not find that would be extremely helpful is the ability to export from the map and data set to a variety of formats–a geodatabase would be nice, or at the very least, a spreadsheet.  I also could not find how I could “select” points that I was interested in, aside from clicking on each one on the map.

Our book discusses the impact of citizen science efforts on geospatial data.  On this note, the NGS also runs a “GPS on Bench Marks” effort, a citizen science program for finding and reporting on the conditions of NGS benchmarks.  By providing GPS on bench marks today, people can help NGS improve the next hybrid geoid model, increasing access to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988, and enabling conversions to the new vertical datum in 2022.  Participating could also help the local surveying community know about nearby marks by improving scaled horizontal positions and updating the mark condition or description by submitting a mark recovery.  A web map in ArcGIS Online is here.

If you are interested in other activities and services from the National Geodetic Survey, see the recent excellent summary in The American Surveyor.  This includes guidelines for using post-processing GPS technology to establish accurate ellipsoid heights and orthometric heights, the new North American Vertical Datum that will be released in 2022, and updates on the GEOCON datum transformation tools.

National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer

National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer.

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