US National Grid (USNG) is the civilian version of the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) used since World War II, and is the state and national location format for emergency response. It’s especially helpful for off-road or wilderness locations that have no addresses, and in disasters when street signs and addresses have been destroyed by floods or tornados.
USNG also makes the most sense for everyday communication of locations where addresses are not specific enough. In most cases, giving 8 USNG digits will locate a person within 10 meters (30 feet) in a parking lot, large building, urban park, or on a backwoods trail. Think of it as a phone number for your location (using just 8 digits locally or all 13 for nationwide location).
In fact, your smartphone is the easiest way to keep track of your location and tell it to others. Simply download www.usngapp.org on a browser, save it as a bookmark, make sure GPS is enabled on your phone, and you’re ready to go. Send the numbers to your friends keeping track of you, or to 911 in an emergency. You can also use them to locate yourself on trail maps with USNG grid collars, or vice-versa, use the grid collar to find your coordinates if you know where you are on the map.
USNG Trail Marker Signs and Location App
Two years working with trail clubs and local, state and federal partners has assured that these signs these trail markers meet all sign regulations and are universally acceptable. They come in three standard sizes and can be ordered online at www.usngstore.com.
Location signs like these have been installed by many jurisdictions to help emergency; responders locate those who are lost or need medical assistance. More information and resources are at www.usngcenter.org.
See a public education brochure sample and sample snowmobile, ski and bike trail maps below.
Download a matching mobile device location app at www.usngapp.org. Once opened prior to leaving cell service, the USNG coordinates continue to give your current location as you move, and work even when out of cell range.
Thanks to www.SharedGeo.org for their leadership and funding for this project. The continue to be an outstanding source of information and expertise.
Learn more at www.usngcenter.org.
Cook County USNG Emergency Location Marker video (48 seconds)
*To use these maps showing your position on a mobile device, download the map and then download and open them in the Avenza Maps Mobile App from www.avenza.com/pdf-maps.