longevity, continuity, stability, robustness, accuracy, speed of accessibility, and capability for supporting innovation through the development of new observing systems that exploit the accuracy of the infrastructure. Geodetic observing systems therefore rely on the existence of the geodetic infrastructure to achieve their goals.

Recognizing the growing reliance of a wide range of scientific and societal endeavors on infrastructure for precise geodesy, and recognizing geodetic infrastructure as a shared national resource, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) of the Department of Defense (DoD), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) requested the National Research Council (NRC) to establish a committee to provide an independent assessment of the benefits provided by geodetic observations and networks, as well as a plan for the future development and support of the infrastructure needed to meet the demand for increasingly greater precision (Box S.1). In response to this charge, the committee made a series of focused recommendations in the body of this report for upgrading and improving specific elements of the infrastructure, for enhancing the role of the United States in international geodetic services, for evaluating the requirements for a geodetic workforce for the coming decades, and for providing national coordination and advocacy for the various agencies and organizations that contribute to the geodetic infrastructure. This summary provides a set of overarching recommendations that address Tasks 2 through 5, which are based on the analysis of information provided throughout the report. These follow from the committee’s core recommendation:

Recommendation: The United States, to maintain leadership in industry and science, and as a matter of national security, should invest in maintaining and improving the geodetic infrastructure, through upgrades in network design and construction, modernization of current observing systems, deployment of improved multi-technique observing capabilities, and funding opportunities for research, analysis, and education in global geodesy.


Committee Charge

Improvements in positioning, navigation, and timing have always driven exploration and understanding of our world. Recognizing the national importance of maintaining and improving the global, high precision geodetic infrastructure that is fundamental to scientific discovery and leadership, and the applications to societal well-being and a vast array of commercial activity, the committee will:

  1. describe and assess the range of benefits to the nation that are dependent on high precision geodetic networks;

  2. review high priority scientific objectives that are dependent on geodetic networks;

  3. describe the infrastructure requirements for achieving these objectives and benefits;

  4. assess the opportunities for technological innovation that will arise from renewed investment in geodetic infrastructure; and

  5. recommend a national plan for the implementation of a precision geodetic infrastructure.


The benefits of the geodetic infrastructure to society are profound and diverse, and this infrastructure has served the nation well by enabling the United States to establish a leadership position in

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