Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 14, 2019
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on April 28, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2019


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 must:

  • 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; and
  • Permit access to data at the lowest possible classification.


Public and private activities in space-based and aerial collection and dissemination of critical information on climate, weather, environment, and positions of objects at the Earth's surface, suffer from insufficient coordination and under-investment. This hampers the capability to optimize the physical infrastructure needed for human health, safety, quality of life, and economic development in accordance with the principles of sustainable 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 changes over time. The information is especially critical in the monitoring and evaluation of large-scale environmental processes, such as those resulting from climate change, and disaster response and recovery. When properly interpreted, remotely sensed data provide policymakers with rich information streams needed for making essential decisions.

Well-maintained Earth-based 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 on current and future natural forces and events, and on the positions of facilities and equipment on the Earth's surface. 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.

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