Revised RICS GNSS standard now effective

With a revised professional standard on global navigation satellite system that took effect in June, surveyors will be better supported in applications that have become common since the last edition


  • Dr Christopher Pearson
  • Prof. Stuart Edwards FRICS
  • Dr Nigel Penna

20 July 2023

Complex intersection of motorways seen from above

In partnership with Newcastle University, RICS has published a new edition of its professional standard Use of GNSS in land surveying and mapping.

The third edition has two goals:

  • to provide surveyors with a set of practical operational guidelines for carrying out any survey that uses global navigation satellite system (GNSS) techniques and give them sufficient information to allow them to generate a set of survey procedures applicable to a task specified by the client
  • to provide the client or end user of spatial information generated by a GNSS survey with sufficient information to write a dedicated specification for such a survey, setting out accuracy requirements, products and a scope of work from which the surveyor can accurately produce tenders.

New edition evolves with profession

GNSS has been used extensively by land surveyors since the late 1980s, initially for geodetic control networks and photogrammetric control. However, now that systems have become more compact, technologically advanced, easier to use and there is a full complement of satellites across multiple constellations, the diversity of survey applications employing GNSS has increased substantially.

Systems are now available for many surveying and mapping tasks, including establishing control, setting out, real-time deformation monitoring and on-board sensor positioning for dynamic survey platforms. The list is continually growing, and the availability of GNSS technology and use of systems in the geospatial profession has advanced substantially since the second edition was published in 2010.

This new edition is designed for a global readership of surveyors using GNSS, and their clients, and is more condensed and easier to navigate than its predecessor. Professional standards set mandatory requirements for the profession, and this document combines recommended best practice advice with the essential information and technical detail to support surveyors in following these.

In regulatory or disciplinary proceedings, RICS will take into account relevant professional standards when deciding whether an RICS member or regulated firm acted appropriately and with reasonable competence. It is also likely that during any legal proceedings a judge, adjudicator or equivalent will take RICS professional standards into account. The standard is endorsed by the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, Ordnance Survey, the Survey Association and High Speed 2 (HS2).

Additions cover up-to-date techniques

This edition includes new sections that look at state-of-the-art techniques and procedures that surveyors now carry out commonly. These additions include multi-GNSS constellations including GPS, Galileo, GLONASS and BeiDou, along with the potential impact that including their data can have on survey results.

Sections relating to more contemporary techniques such as precise point positioning (PPP) and precise point positioning real-time kinematic (PPP-RTK) have been added to supplement the chapter on survey methods. Information on the now widely adopted snake projections for long linear sites is also included in the chapter on coordinate reference systems.

Precision reference tables in the previous edition quoted potential accuracies for a range of differing processing techniques, baseline lengths and occupation times. The tables have been updated to cover all contemporary GNSS techniques now commonly used by the profession.

This document provides current, relevant and useful guidance for varied users from around the world.

Dr Christopher Pearson is a research associate in GNSS geodesy at the School of Engineering, Newcastle University

Contact Christopher: Email | LinkedIn

Prof. Stuart Edwards FRICS is professor of engineering education at the School of Engineering, Newcastle University

Contact Stuart: Email | LinkedIn

Dr Nigel Penna is senior lecturer in geospatial engineering at the School of Engineering, Newcastle University

Contact Nigel: Email | LinkedIn

Related competencies include: Geodesy, GIS (geographical information systems), Surveying and mapping

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