The mission of the Geodetic Survey Section is to apply state-of-the art methods of precise positioning and advanced geodetic techniques to establish and maintain the official survey base of the state of North Carolina and to support mapping, boundary determination, property delineation, infrastructure development, resource evaluation surveys and scientific applications.


The vision of the Geodetic Survey Section is to lead the rapidly expanding community of users of geodetic data into the 21st century. NCGS sees this community as including professionals working in the areas of geodesy, surveying, mapping, navigation, environmental and land-use applications, geographic and land information systems, earth orientation and earth and ocean dynamics. This leadership will require NCGS to develop and produce new geodetic products such as: absolute gravity station values, a high-accuracy multi-dimensional network of monumented control points, improved data processing systems, specifications for advanced surveying technologies and techniques and high accuracy geodetic models. NCGS will pursue the newest developments in data base systems and telecommunications, as well as programs for the transfer of technology, to enable its customers to accomplish their missions in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. In pursuit of this vision, NCGS will continue to use the highest standards of quality, service and integrity.

Strategic Goal 1: National Spatial Reference System (NSRS)

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will lead users in North Carolina in the transition from the existing National Geodetic Reference System (NGRS) to a future National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) that will meet users' spatial control requirements. NCGS will develop a program for this transition to interact and communicate with the user community by means of public forums, seminars, workshops, presentations and publications. This program will focus on providing the user community with the information necessary to use advanced surveying techniques and technologies to make the transition easier. NCGS will continue to provide technical guidance and assistance to NSRS users.

Strategic Goal 2: Coordinate Statewide Geodetic Activities

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey is the lead agency in North Carolina responsible for the coordination of geodetic activities among State agencies. As lead agency, NCGS will coordinate the development, adoption and promotion of: (a) classification standards of content, format and accuracy for geodetic data and (b) standards and specifications for geodetic surveying techniques and technologies for use by all State agencies and,encouraging their use by non- state agencies. NCGS will disseminate information on technological improvements for collecting geodetic data and coordinate the plans and requirements for geodetic activities of State agencies.

Strategic Goal 3: High Accuracy Reference Network (HARN)


The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will observe, monitor and maintain a highly accurate and multi-dimensional network of monumented stations spaced throughout North Carolina. This network, called the North Carolina High Accuracy Network (HARN) will also contain additional stations as needed in areas of crustal motion. The North Carolina HARN will supply minimum accuracies of: 

  • geodetic latitudes and longitudes at 8mm + 1ppm (B order PGCS draft standards)
  • ellipsoidal heights at 1mm / (km) relative accuracy (second order, class 1 PGCS draft standards)  
  • orthometric heights at 1mm / (km) relative accuracy (second order, class 1 PGCS standards)
  • gravity at 50 microgals accuracy (second order FGCS standards) and
  • horizontal and vertical crustal motion at 1mm / year relative accuracy.

A portion of the HARN will consist of minimum accuracies of:

  • geodetic latitudes and longitudes at 5mm + 0.1ppm (A-order PGCS draft standards) 
  • orthometric heights at 0.7mm / (km) relative accuracy (first order, class 2 PGCS standards)

Strategic Goal 4: Official Survey Base

To densify the Official Survey Base of the State by:
  1. Establishing geodetic markers throughout the state so that all surveying and mapping of land and properties may eventually be tied to a common datum, the State Plane Coordinate System.
  2. Densifying the vertical control network so that the land can be more precisely related to mean sea level thus promoting better land identification, use and classification, water control studies and adherence to FEMA requirements. 

Strategic Goal 5: Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS)

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will establish, maintain and monitor a network of GPS Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS) on sites positioned as part of the NC GPS Base Station Network. NCGS will make the CORS receiver data easily available to the public within 24 hours of collection. NCGS will coordinate with Federal, State and local agencies that are interested in this capability. Standards and specifications will be written as guidance for others interested in establishing such stations.

Strategic Goal 6: Orthometric Heights

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will develop and exploit the capability to obtain second order, class 2 (PGCS standards) orthometric heights using GPS and a high resolution geoid model. NCGS will cooperate with the National Geodetic Survey to achieve compatible high-resolution geoid models. This action will facilitate the use of the NGRS-NSRS by Federal, State and local GPS users and support the study of crustal motion.

Strategic Goal 7: North American Vertical Datum (NAVD 88)

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will continue to use the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) and assist the surveying and mapping community in conversion between NAVD 88 and NGVD 29.

Strategic Goal 8: Data More Accessible to Customers

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will make its data holdings and products easily accessible to all its customers. These data products will be provided on media and in formats that are most useful. NCGS will provide direct access to the NCGS Integrated Data Base using modem telecommunications capabilities.

Strategic Goal 9: Quality of Data and Services

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will develop a program to continually monitor and improve the quality of its data holdings, products and services. This program will be based on a Division-wide commitment to error prevention and process improvement. The program will use the concepts of Total Quality Management to empower the employees to make the changes necessary to accomplish the improvements. This will reaffirm NCGS' tradition as an agency dedicated to quality.

Strategic Goal 10: Electronic Distance Meter Calibration Baselines

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will establish and maintain a network of Electronic Distance Meter Calibration Baselines across the state. The baselines will be established at sites that are easily accessible to both government and private sector agencies. The baselines will be established using the highest standards available using equipment that is traceable to the National Bureau of Standards.

Strategic Goal 11: Statewide Leadership in Geodesy

The North Carolina Geodetic Survey will define and use an organizational structure that will allow it to administer the goals and policies in this plan. This structure will allow NCGS to fulfill its mission and to operate with a clear vision of its role as a leader of the geodetic and mapping community.