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How accurate are US Topo maps, and why don't they have an accuracy statement?

US Topo maps are as accurate as the data sources used to make them, but because these sources are many and varied, it is not possible to make a single simple statement that the map as a whole meets a particular level of accuracy. US Topo maps, therefore, do not have a traditional accuracy statement in the map collar. Accuracy information for individual data sources is included in the metadata file that’s attached to each US Topo’s GeoPDF file (open the file in Acrobat Reader and click on the paperclip icon) and each GeoTIFF file.

There are reasons to believe that the overall accuracy of the US Topo series is very good. High-accuracy geospatial data is increasingly common, mostly due to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. The orthoimage layer in US Topo maps is derived from images of the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP). The production of these images is well controlled; they have an accuracy of 6 meters (~20 feet) or better. The match between US Topo vector layers and the orthoimage layer is generally very good, evidence that the maps meet traditional accuracy standards for most feature classes in most areas.

Regardless of actual accuracy, USGS maps and geospatial products are intended for general reference and are not authoritative or official for navigation or for any regulatory purpose.

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