all agencies that support scientific research in this field (for example, DoD, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and USGS) ideally would provide input to the strategic plan of the service. Periodic independent advice from stakeholders in the public and private spheres and those operating at the local and global level would ensure that the service continues to provide reliable access to accurate geodetic information.
The development and deployment of a global precise geodetic infrastructure over the last several decades not only represents a scientific and technological tour de force, but has truly been a classical case of disruptive technology. We cannot imagine our society returning to the days of sextants, spirit levels, and star navigation. Instead, we can imagine autonomous vehicles moving safely at high speed within inches of other vehicles, as well as real-time images of inflating volcanoes or seismic waves rippling across continents. With clocks onboard satellites synchronized with Earthbound clocks to one part in a trillion, we will enable practical uses of general relativity for innumerable scientific and everyday purposes. Because we have yet to explore the applications of much higher spatial and temporal geodetic resolution, we can also expect new science to emerge from a healthy, stable, and well-maintained infrastructure. This report’s recommendation for a new federal geodetic service is aimed at facilitating, and perhaps accelerating, such progress. Finally, if the history of similar services is any guide, it can be anticipated that a federal geodetic service would immediately feed into economic activity, provided that users can safely assume an implied long-term, stable operation in support of the geodetic infrastructure.