First Phase of Height Modernization Project Completed

This map image shows a comparison of the quality of elevation data that is now becoming available in Illinois Using LIDAR (LIght Dectection and Ranging) technology as compared to previously existing information for the U.S. Geological Survey. Height Modernization is the establishment of accurate, reliable height measurements using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology in conjunction with traditional leveling, gravity, and modern remote sensing. Height Modernization activities are designed to provide long-term benefits for the environment, help prevent loss of life, improve property estimates, and save money. The project is a joint effort spearheaded in Illinois by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and the Illinois Department of Transportation with funding through the National Geodetic Survey. The ISGS received nearly $300,000 for the first year's effort and recently submitted its report on the project's first phase. During this phase, activities included

  • taking a poll of all counties, municipalities, surveying firms, and government agencies in order to gather data about existing and potential benchmarks and digital elevation models;
  • completing a 47-mile level line, including 24 new benchmarks, in Winnebago and Du Page Counties;
  • purchasing a data server and providing access to LiDAR data for seven counties; and
  • conducting extensive project outreach.

The second phase is currently under way, and funding for the third phase should arrive soon. Project details can be found at