In late September 2011, the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) released the final Product Standard guide for the U.S. Topo - the map series that has been under production for the past couple of years as the replacement for the traditional USGS topographic map. Beyond serving as an in depth "user guide" for the U.S. Topo, the document is significant for its explanation of the gridding system used on the maps - the U.S. National Grid (USNG). From the "Applicability" section regarding intended use of the U.S. Topo, comes the following:
"US Topo maps integrate an orthoimage, which is a significant enhancement to the original USGS topographic maps regarding currency and completeness. These products are built on standard coordinate systems, include full United States (U.S.) National Grid lines and are particularly useful for emergency first-response operations...."
In addition to a discussion on use of the USNG coordinate system, the following definition of the U.S. National Grid is provided: "The official grid coordinate system of the U.S. Government. See http://www.fgdc.gov/usng/ for information and specifications."
If you would like to obtain a copy of the Product Standard or other US Topo supporting products, here are the links:
- US Topo Product Standard (slow download, PDF, 17.5 MB)
- US Topo Appendix B (technical specification example, PDF, 142 KB)
- US Topo Fact Sheet (PDF, 721 KB)
- US Topo Quick Start User Guide (PDF, 801 KB)
The USGS's US Topo home page can be found here.
Links to Minnesota USNG resources include:
- The EPC's USNG resources page
- MnGeo's free USNG maps for Minnesota
- The official USNG Standard for Minnesota
Comment: Much like efforts to ensure interoperability of Emergency Services Sector (ESS) communications systems (800 MHz), the ability to communicate during a response will not be optimized until all parts of the ESS are speaking the same language of location. USNG is that language.