Policy Guidance for Implementation of the USNG

Delayed responses, mis-routing of emergency resources, and miscommunication due to location language complexities represent the frustrations of emergency responders across  the whole community.  However, there is a solution that can successfully minimize or even eliminate these location issues altogether. It's called the United States National Grid or simply "USNG."  This simple yet powerful tool can quickly and accurately tell you "where am I" on a map, on a GPS receiver or a smartphone.  It is the "language of location."

"The USNG is a point and area reference system that can describe a position or area of operations when and where conventional location references like landmarks or street signs are not in place, such as after a hurricane, flood, or tornado.  The USNG supports mission tasking during and after an incident and serves as an efficient and effective preparedness tool.. It can be used to support planning efforts, including mutual aid and resource allocation planning, for clearly defined areas prior to an incident.  The USNG creates a nationally consistent language of location by providing a grid reference system that is seamless across jurisdictional boundaries and interoperable with traditional location services."                                                                             -Implementation Guide to the USNG, published September 2013

The Implementation Guide to the USNG was prepared by the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation (NAPSG), in partnership with US Department of Homeland Security and the National States Geographic Information  Council to provide guidance for local and state governments to understand and create the framework for adoption of the USNG in their locale.  To learn more about the NAPSG go to their website:

The USNG Executive Summary is a document recommending the adoption of the United States National Grid by the Federal Geographic Data Committee's U.S. National Grid (USNG) standard to provide a nationally consistent "language of location" that has been optimized for local applications. For more information about the Federal Geographic Data Committee go to their website at

The objective of FGDC-STD-011-2001 is a standard to create a more favorable environment for developing location-based services within the United States and to increase the interoperability of location services appliances with printed map products by establishing a nationally consistent grid reference system as the preferred grid for National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) applications. This standard defines the US National Grid. The U.S. National Grid is based on universally defined coordinate and grid systems and can, therefore, be easily extended for use world-wide as a universal grid reference system.


The objective of the USNG standard is to create a more interoperable environment for location-based services and to increase the interoperability of GPS enabled equipment with printed map products by establishing a nationally consistent grid reference system as the preferred grid for national applications.  The USNG is a component of Next Gen 911 Dispatching standards.