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Open-File Report Series 2013–1237

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and
the Natural Resources Conservation Service

National Requirements for Enhanced Elevation Data

By Gregory I. Snyder, Larry J. Sugarbaker, Allyson L. Jason, and David F. Maune

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (188 KB)Introduction

This report presents the results of surveys, structured interviews, and workshops conducted to identify key national requirements for improved elevation data for the United States and its territories, including coastlines. Organizations also identified and reported the expected economic benefits that would be realized if their requirements for improved elevation were met (appendixes 1–3). This report describes the data collection methodology and summarizes the findings. Participating organizations included 34 Federal agencies, 50 States and two territories, and a sampling of local governments, tribes, and nongovernmental organizations. The nongovernmental organizations included The Nature Conservancy and a sampling of private sector businesses. These data were collected in 2010 and 2011 as part of the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment (NEEA), a study to identify program alternatives for better meeting the Nation’s elevation data needs. NEEA tasks included the collection of national elevation requirements; analysis of the benefits and costs of meeting these requirements; assessment of emerging elevation technologies, lifecycle data management needs, and costs for managing and distributing a national-scale dataset and derived products; and candidate national elevation program alternatives that balance costs and benefits in meeting the Nation’s elevation requirements. The NEEA was sponsored by the National Digital Elevation Program (NDEP), a government coordination body with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as managing partner and including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among the more than a dozen agencies and organizations. The term enhanced elevation data as used in this report refers broadly to three-dimensional measurements of land or submerged topography, built features, vegetation structure, and other landscape detail. Additional information about the NEEA and its later use in the development of a three-dimensional (3D) elevation program (3DEP) can be found at

First posted January 28, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, National Geospatial Program
U.S. Geological Survey
511 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192

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Suggested citation:

Snyder, G.I., Sugarbaker, L.J., Jason, A.L., and Maune, D.F., 2014, National requirements for enhanced elevation data: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1237, 371 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)






References Cited

Appendix 1. Federal Government Requirements and Benefits Data

Appendix 2. State, Territory, Local, and Tribal Government Requirements and Benefits Data

Appendix 3. Nongovernmental Requirements and Benefits Data

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