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Continuously Operating Reference Stations


Explore: Global Positioning

Continuously Operating Reference Stations Provide More than $1 Billion in Direct Economic Benefits

January 23, 2012
CORS station

The CORS network contains over 1,800 stations, such as the one shown here. Stations are found throughout the United States, its territories, and a few foreign countries, and continues to expand.

In fiscal year 2011, NOAA’s Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) network provided $1.035 billion in direct economic benefits – a 29 percent increase over benefits provided in fiscal year 2010.

What is the “CORS” network, exactly? Well, chances are that you’ve heard of (and maybe even directly used) the Global Positioning System (GPS). CORS is a network of over 1,800 permanently installed, survey-grade GPS receivers managed by NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey in collaboration with over 200 different government and private organizations.

The National Geodetic Survey collects data from these receivers and provides the data to the public online. With positional data from CORS serving as reference, users need only one GPS receiver (instead of three) to position points with accuracies to within centimeters. This saves time and money and increases efficiency.

When applied to building roads and bridges, ensuring safe and efficient transportation, laying out infrastructure such as utility communication systems, assessing the integrity of buildings, making sure that airplanes land safely on the runway, or measuring a millimeter per year sea level change, it’s not difficult to understand how saving time and money while increasing safety and efficiency is a benefit to everyone.

“Direct benefits” of CORS are calculated by tallying the number of times that users process their GPS-based survey data with various NOAA products.