Wisconsin Geospatial News

Update on Wisconsin Spatial Reference System 2022 Task Force Activities

The Wisconsin Spatial Reference System 2022 Task Force (or WSRS2022) was organized in 2019 to help the state transition to the modernized National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), which was originally planned to be rolled out in 2022. WSRS2022 was organized under the Geospatial Committee of the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors (WSLS). Howard Veregin, Wisconsin State Cartographer, and Richard Kleinmann, who chairs the WSLS Geospatial Committee, are co-Chairs. The Task Force represents a broad coalition of geospatial and surveying professionals in Wisconsin, including federal, state, regional, county and local governments, and agencies, corporations and associations involved in the production and utilization of spatial data.

For more information on WSRS2022 activities see our webpage here.

NGS Delays

The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) has announced several delays in the rollout of the modernized NSRS. They initially announced a delay in June 2020, stating that it was not out of the question to consider a complete roll-out of the modernized NSRS to be somewhere in the 2024–2025 timeframe. In May, 2021, a further delay was announced, with NGS stating that it did not know when modernization would be complete, but expected it to be sometime “after 2025.”

However, NGS’s deadlines for states to submit State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS) plans did not change. For NGS, SPCS refers to three separate projection systems: a statewide single-zone projection, a multi-zone layer similar to the “classic” SPCS zones users will be familiar with, and a statewide multi-zone system (often called an LDP or low distortion projection).

NGS is designing the single-zone projection for Wisconsin. In September 2020, WSRS2022 met the deadline to submit a design for a multi-zone LDP system to replace WISCRS. However, we are still waiting for official approval of our submission. Michael Dennis, NGS State Plane Coordinate Program manager, has acknowledged there have been delays and has indicated informally to us to expect approval with few changes. NGS will not design a classic three-zone system for Wisconsin.

The new LDP will be known as WIGGS for “Wisconsin Grid-Ground Systems” and is based on current WISCRS zones (59 unique zones for 72 counties). While WIGGS uses the same zones and projections as WISCRS, the parameters have been changed to ensure that old WISCRS coordinates are not easily confused with WIGGS coordinates. The new WIGGS parameters are designed to be used with the NGS’s new reference frame for North America (NATRF2022), not with NAD 83. We have published the new system’s parameters but until such time as NATRF2022 is rolled out, you should continue to use the current WISCRS definitions with NAD 83. In other words, although the LDP design is complete, utilization of the design will not be possible until sometime after 2025 when NGS releases NATRF2022.

More information here.

Survey Foot

The depreciation of the US Survey Foot is on schedule for December 31, 2022. The US Survey Foot should continue to be used with existing datums like NAD 83 and older datums like NAD27 they were intended for. NGS will continue to support the US Survey Foot in these legacy datums. The International Foot is intended to be used with NATRF2022.

More information here.


The deadline for submitting data for GPS on Bench Marks (BM) was originally December 31, 2021, but has been moved to December 31, 2022. GPS on BM is designed to help improve the quality of NGS models, which translates into more accurate coordinates. In Wisconsin the GPS on BM campaign is being coordinated by the Wisconsin DOT and there are many non-DOT partners are involved in the project.

NGS has divided the entire nation into a series of 10-km and 2-km hexagons, with the goal of getting at least one observation per hexagon. Since the start of 2021, Wisconsin has led the nation in the number of 10-km priority hexagons completed, and is second in the nation behind Minnesota in the number of 2-km hexagons.

More information here.

WSRS2022 Focus Groups

The WSRS2022 Technical Focus Group has been the main focus group involved in WSRS2022 activities to date. The Technical Focus Group completed the design for the 59-zone WIGGS and submitted it to NGS in 2020. Recently the Group has been working on documentation describing the new WIGGS system, and the development of a series of “heat maps” for each of the 59 WIGGS zones to show how distortion varies over the zone. The Group also has begun thinking about designing a classic three-zone SPCS layer. (However, an informal survey conducted at the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors Institute in January, 2022, showed that only 16% of respondents favored developing such a layer.) The Technical Focus Group has also begun preliminary work with the Software/Hardware Group to develop a Wisconsin-specific coordinate conversion tool.

The delays noted by NGS, as well as the pandemic, have served to limit the efforts of the other Focus Groups.

NGS will offer a free webinar entitled, “It’s 2022 – Are You Done Yet?” on June 9, 2022, at 1-2 pm Central Time for those who want to learn more about the NSRS modernization effort. Registration can found here.