Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on June 7, 2022
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on August 31, 2022
Adopted by the Board of Direction on October 22, 2022


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports strong government and commercial remote sensing activities. Data from these activities provide critical information for monitoring and predicting weather, earthquakes, landslides, and other physical changes in the earth. This critical information, in turn, is used to design and improve earth-based infrastructure.

Government and commercial policies should:

  • Ensure access to publicly funded high-resolution Global Position Systems (GPS) data, communications, imagery, and other useful data free of direct user charges for peaceful civil uses.
  • Permit access to data at the lowest appropriate security classification.


Public and private collection and subsequent dissemination of critical information such as on climate, weather, environment, and positions of objects on the Earth's surface, do not meet important societal needs due to insufficient coordination and under-investment. These issues hamper the capability to optimize physical infrastructure needed for human health, safety, quality of life, and economic development in accordance with the principles of sustainable and resilient development.


Remote sensing includes the collection of information from aerial and space-based platforms across a wide spectrum including but not limited to optical, radar and infrared information. Remote sensing can reveal large-scale patterns that are not otherwise apparent, demonstrate subtle changes in landforms over time, provide access to dangerous or difficult terrain, and provide efficiencies with respect to ground-based data collection.

Remotely sensed data address Earth's processes, including weather, climate, water distribution and land displacements, configuration of built systems, accurate geographical positioning, and physical changes over time. The information is especially critical in the monitoring and evaluation of large-scale environmental processes. When properly interpreted, remotely sensed data provide policymakers with rich information streams needed for making essential decisions.

Well-maintained infrastructure, including public works and utilities, is vital to human health, safety, quality of life, and sustainable development. Planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of physical infrastructure requires accurate, detailed, and efficiently obtained data related to natural forces and events, and on the positions of manmade facilities and equipment. Agreements are needed between governments and between governments and industry to facilitate the systems for collecting such data remotely and for making the resulting data available for public benefit. 

This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 472
First Approved in 2002